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Civil Services Extra Attempt Issue ‘Very Complicated’, UPSC Tells SC

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) told the Supreme Court that the issue of offering an extra attempt at the civil service exam is “very complicated”. The Commission said this during a hearing of the petition filed by three aspirants, who had cleared the UPSC 2021 prelims exam but could not appear in all papers of the main exam after testing positive for COVID-19. These candidates are now seeking an extra attempt to appear in the exams.

“I think this is an issue which is very, very complicated. I think I need instructions and place on record all the aspects before your lordships, before any decision is taken”, the UPSC’s counsel told a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and C T Ravikumar.

The petitioners have sought a direction to the UPSC to extend them an additional attempt to appear in the exam or in the alternate make some arrangement to appear in the rest of the papers which they could not give, before the publication of result.

The counsel appearing for the UPSC told the apex court that he needs to take instructions and place on record all the aspects before any decision is taken on the issue.

The bench posted the matter for hearing on March 21 and said that affidavits be filed by the parties before the next date. While two of the three petitioners had to leave the main exam, held from January 7 to 16, in-between after appearing in some initial papers, the third aspirant could not appear in any of the papers due to COVID.

During the hearing on Monday, senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, who was appearing for the petitioners, told the bench that they had served the copy of the petition to the council for the respondents — the Centre and UPSC. While seeking two weeks to take instructions in the matter, the counsel appearing for the commission told the bench that interviews are slated to start only in April.

On February 28, the bench had asked the petitioners to serve the copy of the petition to the standing counsel for the concerned respondents. The petitioners, in their plea filed through advocate Shashank Singh, have said that they were tested positive for COVID-19 in the RTPCR test reports dated January 13, 14 and January 6.

The plea has said the petitioners could not give the UPSC mains examination after testing positive for COVID-19 and owing to the restrictions imposed under the strict quarantine guidelines of the government. Also, there was absence of any kind of policy of UPSC which could provide arrangements for such petitioners who were COVID positive during the span of mains examination or before it, it said.

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 alternate, make some arrangement to appear in the rest of papers which the petitioners could not give before the publication of result of civil service mains examination 2021, the plea said. It claimed that absence of policy and no arrangement to accommodate COVID-19 positive petitioners to appear in the civil service mains examination 2021 have violated their rights, including that of under Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution of India.

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