The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the petition seeking extra chance in UPSC civil service exams for the candidates who had exhausted their last attempt in October 2020. The petitioners, who had given their last attempt in Civil Service Examination 2020, had sought for an extra chance citing difficulties created by COVID-19 pandemic and the national lockdown. The petitioners argued that the pandemic affected their preparation and sought for extra attempt.
A three-judge bench presided over by Justice A M Khanwilkar dismissed a plea by a group of petitioners led by Rachna for an extra attempt for the UPSC Civil Services Prelims 2021, terming it as “lame excuse” for additional shot in the examination held for selections to prestigious IAS, IPS and IFS.
The petitioners claimed some of them could not perform upto their optimum level due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic.
The court, however, said everyone must have faced some constraints, impediments or inconvenience in one way or the other in the various examinations held in year 2020.
“What is being claimed under the guise of Covid-19 pandemic is nothing but a lame excuse in taking additional attempt to participate in the Civil Service Examination 2021,” the bench, also comprising Justices Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi, said.
At present, candidates from general category get six attempts till age of 32, OBC candidates nine attempts till 35 and SC/ST candidates unlimited attempts till the age of 37 years to appear in Civil Services examinations.
The UPSC had already given extra time to the candidates by postponing the preliminary examination from May 31 to October 4, 2020
The top court said it was dissuaded to exercise plenary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution in policy decisions.
It also pointed out the 2020 rules for competitive examination published by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (Department of Personnel and Training) did not provide any discretion to the government to grant any relaxation either in attempt or age of the candidates.
Though the Union government agreed to provide an extra chance to those who were not age-barred and appeared as last attempt in 2020 exam, the court said any relaxation either in age or attempt would be discriminatory for other candidates.
The petitioners contended earlier in 2015 similar concession was granted by the government. The court, however, said it was done due to change in the examination pattern and syllabus.
“No mandamus can be sought to the the Union government to come out with a policy granting relaxation to the participants who had availed a final and last attempt or have crossed the upper age, as a matter of right,” the court added.