SC judge deny extra chance at UPSC prelims

Published by : Step in college

On Thursday, the Government faced the outrage of the Supreme Court for filing an affidavit by the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) without specifying at whose stage the critical decision was taken to refuse an additional opportunity for final trial applicants for the Civil Services Preliminary examination conducted last year. The Center now has given time period of 24 hours to file a better affidavit.

SC judge bench lashed out on Centre to deny extra chance at UPSC prelims

More than 100 applicants who made their last attempt to join the civil service on 4th October 2020 were pursuing an additional opportunity as a one-time exemption. While some were frontline staff working in COVID-19 duties and had little time to prepare for the test, others were unable to access online study materials due to poor internet connectivity in remote areas.

The Center filed an affidavit on Monday that any exemption given to the petitioners would have a cascading effect, as even the non-final attempt candidates would seek parity. In order to be eligible for the Civil Services (Preliminary) examination, candidates of the general category may take six attempts before they are 32 years old. In the case of OBC applicants, up to nine attempts cane made until the age of 35 years.  While in the case of SC/ST applicants, they will try as many times as possible before they turn 37.

On Thursday, a bench consisting three judges led by Justice AM Khanwilkar lashed out at the Center for not filing a "proper" affidavit. The bench said, "This affidavit says nothing. At what stage has this decision been taken? "The Court also expressed disappointment at the fact that the affidavit was filed as a regular one by the Undersecretary in the DoPT."It is intended to be a policy decision and a one-off exception. Such a decision was to be made at the highest level. Your affidavit does not say anything about it. Is that the way to file an affidavit? ”

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju committed to file a better affidavit within one day as the bench decided to postpone the petition hearing to Friday. For the petitioners, CU Singh, a senior lawyer, told the Court that they had no choice but to write the examination because the Center had not made a decision before the examination as to whether an additional opportunity would be open.

On 30 September 2020, the apex court authorized the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to resume with the examination to be held on 4 October but left the possibility of providing an additional opportunity to the discretion of the Commission. The Center told the Court that this aspect had been considered by the Government.

 DoPT affidavit was vague as to how the decision was made. Instead, the affidavit claimed that the petition should not be considered since the petitioners voluntarily sat for UPSC preliminary exam and approached the Supreme Court after the results had been announced.    As per the affidavit, any exemption to the petitioner would also result in serious prejudice to other applicants in the future. Making an exception for the 100-odd petitioners would have a "ripple effect counterproductive to the overall functionality and level playing field essential for any public examination system, the Center said.

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