The Supreme Court has dismissed the petition filed for an extra attempt for UPSC Civil Services Examinations 2021 for the aspirants who had missed their last attempt in October 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown. The petitioner also wanted a relaxation on the age limit.
The top court called the petitioner’s reasoning that the pandemic had disrupted studies a “lame excuse” to get more chances to appear for the highly competitive examination.
The court verdict reads, “The petitioner’s claim on COVID-19 pandemic is nothing but a lame excuse in taking additional attempts to participate in the exam.”
A three-judge bench comprising justices AM Khanwilkar, Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi hearing the petition for extra attempt said in its judgment that , the pattern of CSE has remained unchanged since 2015 and the candidates got an additional five months to prepare considering that the examination was originally to be held in May 2020.
The judgment further said that those petitioning the court chose not to withdraw their application despite the Union Public Service Commission having opened a second window for withdrawal between August 1-8, 2020, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The court refused to view the case of the petitioners in isolation, as it found the merit in the argument of the Centre that any concession to this batch of petitioners will not be fair to the others.
Justice Rastogi who authored the judgment reasoned that all the aspirants irrespective of the nature of attempt (first or second, etc) who appeared in the 2020 Examination must have faced the same consequences as being faced by the writ petitioners… the reasoning would equally apply to those who have crossed the upper age barrier.”
UPSC has opposed the petition on the grounds that a favourable judgment could affect various examinations and recruitment tests conducted by it and state service commissions.
Initially Centre also opposed the petition, but later offered a “one-time” concession to those candidates who exhausted their last attempt in the examination conducted last year.
As per the rules, general category candidates are allowed six attempts for UPSC Civil services Examination whereas candidates belonging to other backward classes (OBCs) are allowed nine attempts and those belonging from the SCs and STs category can appear as many times as they want. The age bar for the three categories is 32, 35 and 37, respectively.