New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought explanation from the Centre and the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on why no extra attempt will be given to civil services aspirants who are affected by COVID-19 when such relaxation has been extended earlier.Also Read - Govt Plans Staggered Reopening of Schools As COVID Cases Decline, Likely to Issue Guidelines Soon: Report
The apex court asked for the explanation after the Centre on Monday said that an extra chance will not be offered to UPSC’s aspirants who could not appear in their previous attempt last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation. Also Read - After Being Unconscious For 6 Months, Kerala Man In UAE Wakes Up To Make Miraculous Recovery From COVID
A top court bench headed by Justice Justice AM Khanwilkar was informed the same on Monday by ASG SV Raju. Also Read - MHA Extends Coronavirus Guidelines Till February 28, Asks States Not to Let Guard Down
Moreover, on Thursday, the apex court asked the Centre to clarify at what level the decision was taken by the government regarding not giving extra chance to civil service aspirants affected by COVID-19. The top court bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar expressed displeasure over it and said that the affidavit filed before it was not clear about at whose level this decision was taken.
The bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Krishna Murari, observed that a routine affidavit has been filed before it by an under-secretary level officer.
It is a policy decision, the bench said, adding the affidavit does not say anything about at whose level this decision has been taken .
The court is hearing a plea seeking grant of one more chance to appear in the UPSC’s civil services examination to those aspirants who could not appear in their last attempt in 2020 due to the pandemic.
On January 25, the Centre had told the apex court that allowing extra attempt in UPSC civil services exam to those who could not appear in their last chance in 2020 due to COVID-19 would create a cascading effect , detrimental to the overall functioning and level playing field necessary for a public examination system.
In an affidavit filed in the apex court, the Centre had said that giving an additional attempt or relaxation in age for some candidates would amount to extending differential treatment to similarly placed aspirants at the examination.
The Centre had said a total of 4,86,952 candidates appeared in the October 4 last year examination and the UPSC had left no stone unturned in their pursuit to accommodate for the means and interests of the candidates.
It is further submitted that the contention by the petitioners that their preparation was hampered due to the stress caused by the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, does not hold weight as the UPSC had already given extra time to the candidates by postponing the CS (preliminary) examination-2020 from May 31, 2020 to October 4, 2020, it had said, adding that these conditions would have affected every candidate at the examination in a similar way.
The top court on September 30, last year, had refused to postpone the UPSC civil services preliminary exam, which was held on October 4, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and floods in several parts of the country.