Synopsis: A petition filed by UPSC aspirants was heard by the Supreme Court seeking postponement of the upcoming Exam’ 20 Civil Services (prelims).
The Supreme Court was told by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), today that it would not be possible to postpone the UPSC preliminary examinations beyond October.
Advocate Naresh Kaushik, appearing for UPSC, told the Bench consisting of Justices AM Khanwilkar, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari that it was not” possible to delay the prelims beyond October 4 as it would hamper the goals of the examination catering to the government’s four arms.
The UPSC further argued that the exams was supposed to take place on September 30, but it was subsequently postponed until October 4. Deferment would nullify the goal of conducting the four arms of government examination.
UPSC has now been asked by the three-judge bench to file an affidavit in response to the plea by tomorrow, so that the case can be taken up again on 30 September.
The petition filed by Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava urges the court to quash the UPSC’s revised schedule, seeking to delay the examination by two or three months until the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.
The Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna had previously given the petitioners liberty to serve the UPSC and the Central Government with an advance copy of the plea.
The petitioners claimed that UPSC ‘s decision to conduct the exam violates their right to exercise their chosen profession/occupation of serving the public under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.
The petitioners state, citing the possibility of illness or death, that they might not be able to appear on October 4 for the examination.
It is further stated that UPSC’s decision does not fulfil the ‘necessity’ prong of the proportionality examination.
The plea further alleges that UPSC is entirely different from an academic test since it is a recruitment examination. Therefore, there will be no interruption or failure of an academic session in the event of its postponement.
About 6 lakh aspirants (including the petitioners herein) are likely to appear in very few centres in 72 cities across India in the captioned Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, which is a 7-hour offline examination. In the meantime, cases of COVID-19 are increasing in India at an alarming rate of more than 80,000 cases per day. More than 40 cases have already been affected by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Moreover, it is averred that if the exam is conducted as per schedule, underprivileged students will be forced to suffer extreme injustice and deprivation.
Such class-based discrimination, as shown by the challenged revised calendar, is flagrantly in violation of the constitutional rights of the petitioners and other similarly situated aspirants, as enshrined in Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, the plea states.
The petitioners have maintained that their State Public Service Exams have already been cancelled/indefinitely postponed by states such as Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, citing the COVID-19 crisis.
In addition to the key appeal, the father of a serving officer in the Central Armed Police Forces of the Government of India has brought an application.
The applicant points out that his son, who was himself a government officer, was set to train for the civil service, but his preparations were delayed by the extra workload due to COVID-19.