Published: 08th June 2022
Allow two more attempts and age relaxation for all competitive exams, demand aspirants
Students claim that in 2020 and 2021, because of the lockdown, many could not avail proper coaching and attempt the exams properly
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of disadvantages for everyone. Competitive exam aspirants, especially UPSC aspirants, have joined the list as well. In 2020, because of the lockdown, many could not avail proper coaching before attempting the Civil Services Examination (CSE) properly. Students who tested positive also had to bear the brunt. Since that time, students have been agitating for the government to consider their situation and allow them two extra attempts or relax the upper age limit for the exam. The issue reached the Supreme Court and it is trending on social media platforms as well.
Pleas have also been filed in the apex court regarding other exams as well, like Banking, Railways, SSC and other competitive exams. On May 30, a Lok Sabha MP, Rama Devi addressed a letter to PM Modi, urging that two extra attempts be provided for the students of 2020 and 2021 who could not sit for or prepare well for these exams in these two years. A similar letter was addressed to the PM by Shaktisinh Gohil, MP, Rajya Sabha on the same day.
Of late, the hashtag “#2CompensatoryAttempt4All” is trending on social media, accompanying posts urging the government to grant extra attempts and relax the upper age limit for the competitive exams. The students/aspirants have also claimed that there have been no recruitments for the government jobs, due to which the youth are suffering.
So what is Twitterati saying?
“Thanks to @shaktisinhgohil sir for writing a letter to the @PMOIndia, demanding #2CompensatoryAttempt4All of UPSC/ SSC/Banking exam aspirants who have been struggling from last 2years. Dear @narendramodi @DoPTGoI @DoptSecretary When will you wake up from deep slumber?” reads a tweet from the Tripura Pradesh Youth Congress (TYPC @iyctripura). “Sir, please amplify our demand of #2CompensatoryAttempt4All & #UPSCExtraAttempt. We’ve been exhorting GoI to listen to us but there’s been no response from its side. Standing Committee has recommended relief for us. #SupremeCourt has endorsed Committee’s recommendations” reads another tweet by an engineer, Jayansh Singh (@HermeticJai).
“Govt exam students whether IBPS,Banking, SSC suffered due to corona in 2020 and 2021 Please give us at least 2 Extra Attempt in 2022 and 2023 Notifications will come in the month of JUNE FOR IBPS RRB PO IBPS PO and SBI PO #IBPS #2CompensatoryAttempt4All,” Samar Mohanty (@Samar__speaks), an aspirant, tweeted. Meanwhile, Jagdish Shetty (@jagdishshetty), the National General Secretary of the Virat Hindustan Sangam, an organisation for the education of youngsters on the heritage and culture of India, led by Subramanian Swamy, tweeted, "Youth are upset that there is NO Recruitment for Govt Jobs nor the UPSC/ SSC recruitment giving relaxation in age due to affect of Covid19 ! @PMOIndia Must Intervene #2CompensatoryAttempt4All #HelpOurYouth.”
EdexLive reached out to Jagdish Shetty for a comment. He said, “During 2020, many had faced difficulty in making proper attempts for the government exams. So, there have been demands for extra attempts and raising age limits. We have approached the government, but are yet to receive a proper response. So, we are trying to draw the government’s attention through social media. Several members have also sent emails to the government regarding the matter.” He added, “It is not only about UPSC. But various other examinations conducted by state boards and other subordinate boards are to be considered. The demands for extra attempts are being made for a sum total of all the exams. The youth have staged agitations, held dharnas and even hunger strikes for this.”
So what do students think?
Meanwhile, Subhranshu Mishra, a UPSC aspirant, when asked about these demands, said, “I do not think the government would agree. There are a lot of things to consider. Firstly, it is about not one but three exams. The Prelims in 2020 were conducted late in October because of the pandemic, whereas they ought to have been conducted in May or June. So, the delay has already affected the exam cycle and conducting another exam would again cause delays in the next cycle because, without the publication of the results, the next exam cannot be scheduled. And the government is already struggling to fill the vacancies, so delays would affect the recruitments also.”
“The financial aspect needs to be considered as well. The government cannot afford to conduct another exam as a lot of resources goes into it. And increasing the age limit isn’t a solution, as students who are attempting or are yet to attempt the exam next year will be disadvantaged. So, the issue cannot be considered. It is similar for the other exams. Had it been possible, it would already have been granted. I understand that the students have suffered in 2020 and 2021, and their demands are justified, yet, there appears to be no solution in this case,” he added.
But how did the matter crop up?
It all started in July 2021, when a petition was filed in the Supreme Court by three students who had qualified for the UPSC Preliminary Exam held in October 2020 but could not appear for the Mains Exam held in January 2022, as they tested positive for COVID. The plea, filed through Advocate Shashank Singh, demanded that they should get extra attempts or some other arrangements should be made for them. A Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar and comprising Justices AS Oka and CT Ravikumar heard the plea in March 2022.
“The petitioners are approaching this court under Article 32 and seeking a direction to the Respondent/UPSC to extend them an additional (extra) attempt to appear in the examination or in an alternate, make some arrangement to appear in the rest of papers which the petitioners could not give before the publication of the result of the Civil Service Mains examination 2021,” the plea read, as noted by Times Now. It also claimed violation of rights under Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution because of the absence of any policy or arrangement to accommodate the COVID-19 positive petitioners to appear in the exam.
Tracing the timeline of court proceedings
On February 28, the court had asked the petitioners to serve a copy of the petition to the standing counsel of the concerned authority, which is the UPSC. On March 7, the counsel appearing for the UPSC had said that he needed to take instructions and place on record all the aspects before any decision could be taken on the issue. On March 21, the case was heard again. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, told the Bench that a counter affidavit would be filed by the counsel appearing for the UPSC during the course of the day. The counter affidavit stated that it was a “complex” issue and, thus, it was not possible to consider re-conducting the exam or granting an extra attempt to the students.
The case was up for hearing once more on March 25 and the top court stated that the matter of conducting an extra exam would have to be taken by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT). The DoPT had also received many representations from students on the matter. By this time, the result of the Mains exam was already declared. A week later, on March 31, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to reconsider its decision within two weeks. However, the court dismissed the petition filed by the students and left the decision entirely with the government. Meanwhile, a recommendation was issued by the Parliamentary Standing Committee urging the government to change its mind and that the students be granted two extra attempts and the age limit be relaxed. The apex court gave its decision based on this recommendation.
The demands for extra attempts and age relaxation in UPSC led to the same being demanded for all competitive exams. However, the government and other concerned boards are yet to come with any updates on the matter, as of now.