THE SUPREME Court on Wednesday rejected a plea to postpone the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Services (Preliminary) Exam, scheduled for October 4, in view of Covid-19 and floods in some parts of the country.
A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari, however, asked the authorities “to explore the possibility of providing one more attempt” to candidates who may not be able to appear for the exam in their last attempt due to the pandemic.
“In the recent past, various public examinations have been successfully conducted by different authorities. That is a testimony of the fact that if proper standard operating procedures are observed by all concerned, as defined by the Ministry of Home Affairs, it is possible to conduct such examinations,” the court said.
The Bench was hearing a plea seeking postponement of the exam by a few months. The petitioner said lack of transport facilities would make the situation difficult for candidates.
Rejecting this, the Bench said: “This is a general statement without any specific details”, and pointed out that the “UPSC, on affidavit, has produced communication issued by the concerned authorities to ensure proper transport arrangements for the candidates who intend to appear in the examination”.
It also noted that the UPSC had permitted candidates to change their centres, and over 60,000 candidates had availed this option.
The court also refused to accept the contention that most institutions and libraries had remained closed due to Covid-19, and this had created difficulties for candidates.
“We are not impressed by this submission, as it is common knowledge that online study materials are available to the candidates… In any case, non-functioning of libraries, physically, cannot be the basis to direct the UPSC to postpone the scheduled examination which initially was planned to be held in May 2020,” the Bench said.
The Bench also rejected the plea to merge the 2020 and 2021 exams, and agreed with the UPSC “that resorting to that option would result in cascading effect on other public examinations”.
The court, however, directed the UPSC and MHA to “ensure that all proper logistical facilities are made available to the candidates, including observance of medical protocol and SOPs in place in that regard”.
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