UPSC aspirants, who had exhausted their last attempt in the October 2020 exams have long been requesting the government to grant an extra attempt. These aspirants also include those who have now become age-barred. Several petitioners had approached the Supreme Court, seeking an extra attempt citing the difficulties caused by the COVID pandemic. On July 22, the top court refused to pass directions to the Central Government and the UPSC to grant an extra chance to all such civil service aspirants.
As the furore continues, scores of civil services aspirants have taken to Twitter and have cited reasons related to the COVID-19 second wave, supporting the cause of an extra chance for the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission). Students have raised concerns like lack of electricity and internet in remote regions, along with lockdown restrictions and COVID-19 related illness/casualties in their families.
"Since my childhood, I have HAD a single dream to serve and live for India. I was not strong enough to face these tough times and I’ll regret it my whole life. UPSC CSE is the toughest exam in India, probably in the World. COVID-19 caused so much suffering and in this situation even having the strength to study and having the courage to give an exam is itself shows determination," said UPSC aspirant Swatantra Dantre.
"I tested positive for COVID-19 while working for the country as a frontline worker, yet gave exams as it was my last attempt due to age restrictions. I cleared prelims but left mains midway due to illness and lack of preparations. One year age relaxation can solve my problem," another UPSC aspirant Krishna said.
"We just want an opportunity. Our years of hard work and sacrifices got shattered due to the pandemic and it was our final attempt. Please help us seek an extra attempt. We just want one-time relaxation, an opportunity for our dream," UPSC aspirant Kesari said.
UPSC extra attempt: What Supreme Court said
In the July 22 judgement, the apex court refused to pass directions to the govt and the UPSC to grant an extra chance to all such civil service aspirants. However, the bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna gave the candidates liberty to submit representations before concerned authorities seeking extra an attempt. The bench urged that the authorities may take a lenient view on the plea for an extra chance in the light of the COVID pandemic situation.
While expressing sympathy with their situation, the bench said that the Court cannot direct the grant of extra-chance. The bench pointed out that in February 2021, a similar plea had been rejected in the case Rachna vs UPSC.
"The petitioners made an unsuccessful attempt to persuade us that the petitioners are not covered by the Rachna judgement. According to them, the situation was forced and not a case of non-appearance by choice. Although we may have sympathy for the situation that has occurred, issues raised are covered in Rachna", the bench noted in the order.
However, the bench added, "The only liberty that can be given to the Petitioners and applicants is to make representation to the appropriate authority who may consider it and take a lenient way in light of the relevant situation and the time. We are not expressing any opinion regarding resolution".
The bench passed the order while disposing of the writ petitions Abhishek Anand Sinha vs Union of India and Lavanya vs Union of India, along with the several intervention applications filed in these petitions.
Earlier in June too, the Supreme Court had dismissed a petition filed by 6 civil service aspirants seeking an extra chance in the UPSC exam. A bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Aniruddha Bose had observed that the issue is covered by the judgment delivered on February 24.
UPSC extra attempt: Matter raised in Rajya Sabha
Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha on Thursday was informed that no proposal to give another chance to UPSC aspirants is under consideration by the government.
"No Sir. No such proposal is under consideration," Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said in a written reply to a question, "whether the government is considering to provide another chance to all those aspirants of Civil Service Examination who could not appear in the examination in 2020?"
The civil services examination is conducted annually by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in three stages -- preliminary, main and interview -- to select officers of Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS), among others.
Recently, UPSC had announced the postponement of the civil services preliminary examination, scheduled to be held in June, to October 10 in view of the alarming COVID situation.
Video shows ruckus in the Rajya Sabha