No extra chance for UPSC aspirants who exhausted last attempt in 2020 due to COVID-19: SC

No extra chance for UPSC aspirants who exhausted last attempt in 2020 due to COVID-19: SC

In a setback to scores of UPSC aspirants, the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea seeking an extra chance at the prestigious civil services exam. Several aspirants had approached the apex court after they exhausted their last attempt in October 2020 exam amid the COVID-19 crisis and wanted another attempt at the prestigious civil services exam.

The top court had reserved the judgement on February 9. Pronouncing the judgment, a bench comprising Justices Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi said praised the counsel for petitioners.

The Centre had told the apex court that it is not in favour of one-time relaxation to the civil service aspirants, to those who are age-barred, as it will be discriminatory to other candidates. Representing the Centre, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju had submitted before the court that initially the government was not willing to give an extra chance, but it mellowed its stand after a suggestion from the bench.

The UPSC aspirants, who exhausted all attempts last October, in the backdrop of mental and physical trauma due to the ongoing pandemic had urged the top court to give directions to provide them an extra attempt. "During this pandemic, while everyone had a choice to save their attempt by leaving the exam in 2020, while taking care of their health, the last attempters were given no choice at all and had to sit for the exam, despite the lack of opportunity to prepare", the petitioners have argued.

Raju had stressed that the government is not willing to dilute its stand on age-barred candidates, and insisted that these are policy matters beyond the purview of the court. "This is not the exam where you prepare at the last minute. People prepare for years together", submitted Raju.

Agreeing to the final attempt, the Centre had said: "Relaxation, only to the extent of providing one extra attempt for Civil Service Examination (CSE), specifically limited to CSE-2021, may be granted to only those candidates who appeared for CSE-2020 as their last permissible attempt and are otherwise not age-barred from appearing in CSE-2021."

The top court, however, pressed that the government should consider giving age-relaxation as a one-time measure. The Centre had told the top court that no relaxation can be granted for CSE-2021 to those candidates who have not exhausted their permissible number of attempts or to those candidates who are otherwise age-barred from appearing in CSE-2021 as per the prescribed age limits of different categories, or to any other candidate for any other reason whatsoever.