The Centre told the Supreme Court on Friday that it would not be possible to offer an “extra chance” to those who could not appear for the civil services exams last October, dealing a blow to aspirants who could not take the tests because of the pandemic.
“Yesterday night, I received information from the government that they are not agreeable. I would want to put this on affidavit in a week,” additional solicitor-general A.V.S. Raju told a bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari.
The bench, while directing Raju to place the stand through an affidavit, posted the matter for further hearing to Monday.
The Centre’s stand has belied the expectations of hundreds of aspirants as the government during the earlier hearings had given the impression that a positive approach would be adopted.
On December 18, solicitor-general Tushar Mehta had informed the court that the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) was in the process of examining the plea for the conduct of a second round of IAS, IPS and IFS exams for those candidates who could not appear on October 4 due to Covid-19-related problems.
The bench had recorded an undertaking from Mehta while dealing with a petition filed by some aspirants seeking the conduct of fresh exams.
“Learned solicitor-general, on instructions, submits that the central government as well as the Union Public Service Commission are in the process of taking appropriate decision in respect of proposal in reference to the sentiments expressed by this court in an order dated 30.09.2020…. List the matter on 11th January, 2021,” the bench had said in an order.
On September 30 last year, the court had asked the government and the UPSC to consider the plea of some candidates for a fresh round of exams for the affected students but had permitted the UPSC to go ahead with the October 4 civil services exams, rejecting the appeal of a batch of students for postponement of the exams by two-three months.
The court had, however, directed that the authorities adopt all precautionary steps and standard operating procedures (SoP) evolved by the health ministry, including ensuring that no Covid-positive candidate is allowed to take the exams and limiting the number of candidates per centre to 100.
The bench had also rejected the plea of the candidates for merger of the 2020 civil services main exams with the 2021 preliminary exams, which is tentatively scheduled for June 27.
The UPSC had earlier turned down a plea for the cancellation of the 2020 civil services exams on the ground that the government had incurred an enormous expenditure for the conduct of the exams at 72 centres and over 2,500 sub-centres across the country and taken all necessary precautions.
While accepting the UPSC’s plea, the court had, however, suggested that the commission and the Centre consider the idea of giving an additional chance to those candidates who would miss their last attempt owing to the pandemic.