Published: 25th January 2021
Extra chance for UPSC aspirants disrupts level playing field: Central Government to SC
It added that accommodating the present petitioners would create a cascading effect detrimental to the overall functioning and level playing field necessary to be provided in any examination
The Central government has told the Supreme Court that civil services aspirants who have exhausted all their attempts in the exams held in October last year should not be given an extra try.
"It may be noted that providing an extra attempt could further have a cascading effect by creating a ground for a challenge on part of those candidates who have already appeared for the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination 2020," said the affidavit filed by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).
It added that accommodating the present petitioners would create a cascading effect detrimental to the overall functioning and level playing field necessary to be provided in any public examination system.
The Centre has emphasised that the contention by the petitioners, who moved the top court through advocate Anushree Prashit Kapadia, that their preparation was hampered due to the stress caused by the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic, does not hold weight as the UPSC had already given extra time to the candidates by postponing the CS (Preliminary) Examination-2020 from May 31, 2020, to October 4, 2020.
"Denial of an additional attempt to the petitioners will make them suffer serious discrimination qua other petitioners who may not have faced similar hurdles as the writ petitioners in their preparation," the petitioners had argued.
The DoPT, however, said that other non-final attempt candidates, who undertook the examination this year without any murmur of discontent, would be disadvantageously placed in future examinations if the relief sought by the petitioners is granted.
It stressed this relief would enable a vast number of experienced candidate (who have availed more time to prepare for the examination), to participate in the examination again, thereby making the future examination excessively competitive.
Against the backdrop of the ongoing pandemic, the Centre said these conditions would have affected every candidate at the examination in a similar way, thus it is essential to maintain a balance amongst all the candidates. It submitted that unlock guidelines were first issued by the Union Home Ministry in the first week of June 2020, where gradual relaxations in restrictions were made. In October 2020, the fifth phase of unlocking was in effect, resulting in the removal of most of the restrictions with respect to the movement of the public.
"Therefore, in view of the same, the contention put forth by the petitioner that appearing in the examination was not possible due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions does not hold any ground whatsoever," it said.
The DoPT said such other non-final attempt candidates would therefore have a legitimate grievance against such participation as their chances to be selected in such future examination would be seriously jeopardised. "Further, it is submitted that such other non-final attempt candidates, may in the future seek exemption from the 2020 examination is counted as an attempt at all. Therefore, any relief to the petitioner, apart from being meritless, would also result seriously prejudicing other candidates in the future," it said in the affidavit.
On January 22, the Centre had told Supreme Court it is not keen on granting an extra attempt to civil services aspirants, who could not take the last attempt of the exam amid the pandemic.
Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, representing DoPT, told a bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar that "we are not ready to give one more chance".