Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 8
The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to consider extending the benefit of extra chance being given to civil services aspirants who exhausted their last attempt last year during COVID-19 pandemic to age-barred candidates as well.
“We don’t expect you to be rigid on this aspect. There were extraordinary circumstances,” a Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar told Additional Solicitor General SV Raju.
The court’s comments came after senior counsel Shyam Divan submitted on behalf of the petitioner candidates that extra chance and age bar relaxation were intertwined and such last chance candidates should be treated as a “homogenous class”.
Divan and other senior counsel representing the petitioners pointed out that such relaxation had been given in the past as well.
“You can always argue it is a policy decision. But is there a way out? We are also of the view that age should not be changed. But if it is done in the past, is it possible as a one-time measure?” the Bench asked, noting that policies were made based on ground realities.
The Bench deferred the hearing to Tuesday after ASG Raju said he would like to seek instructions. It said if the issue was not resolved tomorrow, it would proceed to decide the case on merits.
The Centre and the UPSC had on February 5 agreed to grant an extra chance to candidates who are not age-barred and exhausted their last attempt for the prestigious Civil Services Examination (CSE) in 2020 during COVID19 pandemic.
However, the ASG had said the one-time restricted relaxation would be applicable only to CSE 2021 for those who were not age-barred and appeared in their last attempt during the pandemic.
Earlier, the Centre had on February 1 reiterated its stand against granting an extra chance to the civil services aspirants who could not appear or prepare well for their last attempt in the 2020 UPSC exam due to COVID-19.
The top court has been saying if such relaxation was granted in the past, why the government can’t do it one more time. The one-time relaxation will benefit over 3,300 students without even increasing the age-limit, it said.
The Centre had initially opposed the idea, saying allowing an extra attempt to civil services aspirants who could not appear in their last chance in the 2020 examination due to the COVID-19 situation would create a “cascading effect”, detrimental to the overall functioning and level playing field necessary for a public examination system.
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