Why UPSC aspirants can’t take exam again as ‘one-time concession’, Supreme Court asks government

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Union government what stopped it from giving Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) aspirants another chance to take the preliminary exam as a “one-time concession”. It, however, made it clear that it had no intention to ask the government to relax the age limit of 32 in order to facilitate the aspirants have another crack at the exam.

Several aspirants had approached the Supreme Court for another chance at the exam, claiming that the spread of COVID-19 and the resultant lockdown hampered their preparations for the prelims held on October 4 last. The government is against giving them another opportunity or any sort of relaxation in age, saying it would amount to extending differential treatment having cascading consequences.

On Friday, a three-judge Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar assured the government that “we will not ask you to increase the age limit... For the time being, we are not asking you to relax the age limit”.

Addressing Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, appearing for the government, Justice Khanwilkar said: “You have to be a little persuasive... This has been done in the past. They are only asking for one more time. They are not asking to increase the age limit”.

Two questions to govt

The court then posed two questions to the government.

“We want you to tell us how many times relaxation or one-time adjustment has been given in the past since the UPSC has been constituted... Two, how many times attempts [at the exam] have been increased in the past... It was originally two, now six” Justice Khanwilkar asked Mr. Raju.

Mr. Raju said there would be no need to answer the two questions if the court first heard out the government’s reasons.

“There is also substance in what we say,” Mr. Raju said

“If it [one-time adjustments or relaxation] has been done, it can be done now,” Justice Khanwilkar reacted.

The court asked the government to also clarify how many aspirants would benefit by the “one-time concession”.

Next hearing on Monday

The court scheduled the next hearing for Monday after Mr. Raju agreed to respond to the questions from the Bench.

On January 22, the government, for the first time, told the court that it was “not agreeable” to give aspirants another crack at the exam. 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 petition filed by several aspirants, represented by advocate Anushree Prashit Kapadia, has sought another shot at the exam 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”.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 8:05:12 PM |

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