The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the Centre and Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on a plea seeking postponement of the upcoming civil services exam. The petition, filed by 20 UPSC aspirants through Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava against conducting of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination 2020, on October 4, sought postponement of the civil services exam for 2 to 3 months so that the flood/ incessant rains go away, the COVID-19 curve may flatten and the State Governments, which are otherwise "admittedly unprepared" as of today, get more time to prepare themselves for the implementation of SOPs of the exam.
The plea stated that this 7 hours long offline exam, which will be taken by approximately six lakh aspirants at test centers in 72 cities across India, is likely to be a big source of further spread of the COVID-19 virus. They have submitted that for fear of the risk of illness or death, they may not be able to take the examination.
A Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar while seeking the response from the Central government and UPSC posted the matter for hearing on September 28.
The revised calendar for UPSC exams suffers from class-based discrimination and violates Article 14 of the Constitution, in as much as students belonging to the middle class and/or lower middle class will not be able to afford transport, accommodation, or other expenses to take the examination amid a pandemic, said the plea while seeking quashing of the revised calendar.
Furthermore, it violates Article 16 of the Constitution as it deprives many of the aspirants of equal opportunity in public employment, it added.
"Quash the Revised Calendar, 2020, issued by the UPSC, whereby it has been decided to conduct the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2020, on October 10, despite alarming spurt of COVID-19 pandemic and natural calamities in our country, for being violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India," the petition stated.
It further asked "to postpone the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination for 2 to 3 months or till the time the COVID-19 curve flattens in the majority of the areas of our country."