UPSC extra attempt case: SC throws the ball back into government's court; aspirants left in lurch

The aspirants are upset. Though some still hope for solution, others say they might start preparing for different careers
UPSC aspirants upset with SC | (Pic: EdexLive)
UPSC aspirants upset with SC | (Pic: EdexLive)

After Supreme Court dismissed the plea for an extra attempt in the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Services Examination (CSE) on February 20, aspirants claim that they have "no other concrete plan" in sight. Though some still hope for a possible solution, others say they might start preparing for different careers. However, they are disappointed with the apex court's decision.

“Let government as a matter of policy take a call. But if you want a judicial review, we have to draw a line. When the court has pronounced a judgement, you cannot keep filing petitions. We have to draw a line somewhere," a part of the judgement states, as per a report by LiveLaw.

"We have tried everything and approached every authority. The court has left it for the government to decide and the government from the beginning was not ready to allow an extra attempt," says Nitin Kumar, an aspirant. However, they are waiting for the written court order to decide what can be done next.

Amulya Animesh, another CSE aspirant points out that one solution could be for the aspirants to approach their respective Chief Ministers' Offices (CMOs) and ask for intervention. "Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin has already written a letter supporting an extra attempt to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). Similar letters from other states will surely help," he said.

On February 7, Chilambarasan, an aspirant from TN, approached the CMO and explained the issue, after which came Stalin's letter. Chilambarasan says that he awaiting the written order, and goes on to speak of why an extra attempt is important for him. "I got age barred during COVID-19 times," he mentions, and adds that several more like him have been seeking a compensatory attempt for the last two years.

The latest plea was the seventh. The petitioners either exhausted their last attempt or reached the maximum age limit for CSE during the pandemic years of 2020-22. Several of them were affected due to COVID-19 and could not attend the exam, while others who were infected claim that despite promises of alternate arrangements in line with the protocols, none were provided. The candidates also state that uncertainty during the pandemic hampered their preparation, hence their right to a compensatory attempt.

Unhappy with yesterday's judgement, yet another aspirant, Gaurav Thakur, says, "I feel the court has taken a limited view of the situation." He adds that the judgement alluded to a dismissed plea of 2020, in which the government had countered the students' claims that proper COVID-19 protocols were not followed. "But facts were misrepresented in that case, and our counsel pointed it out," Nitin stated.

The aspirant emphasises that this time their plea was filed after thorough research and they had evidence supporting their claims of violated COVID protocols. "But the court did not give us a chance to present them," he said. The CSE candidates are also upset that Justice Ajay Rastogi, while hearing the matter, said that the students could do "other things".

"Every attempt is our right," states Gaurav. "Even if we have exhausted five attempts, it cannot be said that one more can make no difference and be taken away from us," Amulya adds. He further told that extra attempts were given for the Staff Selection Commission, General Duty (SSC GD) exam due to the pandemic, but when they mentioned this at the hearing, the court asked them not to compare this exam to UPSC CSE.

On the other hand, another aspirant Jagya Dutt, who is also a practising lawyer, clears the air. "This is how the court works. Several petitions were already dismissed and similar arguments were presented in them. Moreover, the current petition was filed on the basis of administrative law (violation of government protocols) and the court rarely interferes in such matters. However, we were hoping for a solution and now everyone has been left disappointed," he explained.

Jagya, however, added the court's judgement had now opened doors for the administration to intervene, and there was a chance that the matter would be resolved. Other aspirants hope that their demands may be fulfilled in 2024 with the upcoming elections.

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