Updated: February 25, 2021 6:47:10 am
THE SUPREME Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea by some civil service aspirants – who exhausted their last opportunity in the preliminary exams held in October 2020 – seeking an extra attempt in view of the difficulties posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Ajay Rastogi and Indu Malhotra also nixed a government proposal to provide an extra chance to those who took the October 2020 exam but have not crossed the age limit, noting that some of the petitioners themselves had contended that it is “discriminatory”.
The court said that “it is advisable to avoid this situation and any relaxation which is not permissible either in attempt or age under the scheme of Rules 2020 apart from being in contravention to the rules, it may be discriminatory and it is advisable not to exercise discretion in implementing what is being proposed by the 1st respondent [Centre] in compliance of” an earlier order of the court.
The bench said “there are large number of candidates who appeared in various examinations in 2020 during Covid-19 pandemic and everyone must have faced some constraints/impediments/inconvenience in one way or the other…”.
Pointing out that the syllabus for the exams has not changed since 2015, the court said that it can take “a judicial notice that these petitioners have appeared in the same pattern of examination in the previous years since the year 2015 and what is being claimed and prayed for 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 to be held in future and we find no substance in either of the submissions which has been made before us”.
Referring to statistics submitted by the Union Public Service Commission, the bench said it “clearly indicate that various selections have been held by the Commission for Central Services in the year 2020 during Covid-19 pandemic and selections must have been held by State Commissions and other recruiting agencies” and that “if this Court shows indulgence to few who had participated in the Examination 2020, it will set down a precedent and also have cascading effect on examinations in other streams…”.
The petitioners had referred to an extra opportunity being granted in the 2015 civil services exam for candidates who appeared in the 2011 exams to buttress their claim.
The government, however, explained that it was done because there was a substantial change in the pattern of Civil Service (Preliminary) Examination 2011.
Reflecting on this, the judgment spoke about the limitations for courts to interfere in matters of government policy and said “merely because as a matter of policy, if the 1st respondent has granted relaxation in the past for the reason that there was a change in the examination pattern/syllabus and in the given situation, had considered to be an impediment for the participant in the Civil Service Examination, no assistance can be claimed by the petitioners in seeking mandamus to the 1st respondent 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 by appearing in the Examination 2020 as a matter of right”.
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