Petitioners stated that October 4 prelims were severely restricted due to COVID-19
The Union government again on Monday orally stated in the Supreme Court that it is against granting another chance to Union Public Services Commission (UPSC) aspirants, whose preparations for the October 4 prelims were severely restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Appearing before a Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju said an affidavit had been prepared that gives reasons for the government’s unwillingness to provide another opportunity to aspirants.
On January 22, the government, for the first time, told the court that it was “not agreeable” to give aspirants another crack at the exams. The court asked the government to make its stand clear in an affidavit by January 25.
The January 22 revelation from the government had come after weeks of telling the court that a decision to grant another chance for aspirants was under “active consideration”.
The case is based on a petition filed by several aspirants who appeared in the prelims on October 4, 2020.
They sought another shot at the exams in view of “innumerable, inevitable circumstances suffered by them due to COVID-19 pandemic, which prevailed in the entire country during the crucial period of their preparation and even on the date of examination”.
They said that some of them were even rendering services as Corona warriors while others were dealing with infection in the family, physical and mental trauma and even lack of “minimal proper infrastructure to prepare for the examinations and loss of income making it difficult to even survive during the pandemic”.
Plight of last chance candidates
The petitioners especially highlighted the plight of those among them whose last chance was on October 4.
“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,” they pointed out.
On December 18, they argued for another opportunity and corresponding age relaxation.
The Department of Personnel and Training, on October 26, even informed the Supreme Court that the government was considering giving last-chance candidates another shot at the exam.
Mr. Mehta submitted at the time that the issue was not adversarial and a decision would be taken in weeks.
The government had referred to a September 30 order of the court in this regard in the case of Vasireddy Govardhana Sai Prakash versus the UPSC.
In September, the court refused to postpone the October prelims but recorded the government’s assurance to take an expeditious decision on granting another chance for “last-attempters”.
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