UPSC prelims challenged in SC

October 08, 2017 12:00 am | Updated 04:15 am IST - NEW DELHI

Students accuse commission of non-transparency, framing ambiguous questions

Seeking answers:Over four lakh candidates appeared for the Civil Services prelims held in June.G.P. Sampath Kumar

Seeking answers:Over four lakh candidates appeared for the Civil Services prelims held in June.G.P. Sampath Kumar

A batch of civil services aspirants from across the country have moved the Supreme Court against the conduct of the Civil Services preliminary examination of 2017, accusing the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) of non-transparency and of framing ambiguous, incoherent questions.

As many as 4,62,000 candidates appeared for the prelims held on June 18, 2017.

The writ petition, filed by Vishal Rathi and 55 other students, submitted that several of the questions were ambiguous with at least two or more equally plausible answers. The students illustrated their predicament with four of such questions, one of them being “whether the right to vote and be elected is a fundamental right or a natural right or a constitutional right or a legal right.” They referred to texts and past judgments to point out that some say it is a legal right while others describe it as a constitutional right.

The problem, the petitioners point out, is that the ‘key’, which is the list of correct answers to questions asked in the exam, would accommodate only one answer.

“In such a circumstance, a more astute student would know that from authoritative texts two correct answers were possible. Such a student would avoid answering the question at all since negative marks were awarded for a wrong answer. The result would be that if the student chooses not to answer the question he would lose two marks, and should he answer but not as per the corresponding ‘key’ he would be marked negatively and would lose 2.67 marks,” the petitioners, represented by Satya Mitra, explained their quandary.

‘Key’ not disclosed

The petition said the ‘key’ to the questions had not been disclosed by the UPSC and “it is always released at the end of the entire selection process whereupon UPSC pleads fait accompli against any grievance of the students.”

The petition has sought the apex court to direct the disclosure of the answer key as well as where the petitioners stand in the merit list.

The apex court is likely to hear the case on October 13.

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