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SC seeks govt, UPSC reply over prelims exam

September 25, 2020 06:41 AM


SC seeks govt, UPSC reply over prelims exam
Abraham Thomas

New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Thursday sought the response of the Centre and the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on a petition by 20 civil service aspirants to postpone the October 4 Civil Service (Preliminary) Examination amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Citing the pandemic and natural calamities in some states, the petitioners from various parts of the country, led by Vasireddy Govardhana Sai Prakash, told the apex court that holding the examination in the present circumstances would pose a risk to their health and safety.

Unlike academic examinations, there would not be any question of loss of an academic year if the exam is not held, they said. That comes in the backdrop of the Joint Entrance Examination for admission to engineering schools and the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for medical and dental course aspirants taking place this month on grounds that students were at risk of losing an academic year.

The bench of justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjeev Khanna issued notice to the UPSC and the Centre and posted the matter for hearing on September 28.

“About six lakh aspirants are likely to appear in the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, which is a seven hours offline examination, to be given at limited centres in 72 cities across the country,” advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, appearing for the petitioners, told the court.

“Meanwhile, Covid-19 cases are increasing in India at an alarming rate….Conducting the exam at such perilous time is nothing but putting lives of lakhs of young students (including petitioners) at utmost risk and danger of disease and death.”

In addition, the petition pointed out that candidates in several states were stuck because of floods and excessive rains. Since the exam is usually held during summers, this is a peculiar situation facing the candidates, the petition stated.

The examination was earlier scheduled for May 31, but postponed on account of the pandemic. On June 5, the UPSC, the recruitment body for civil services, came out with a revised examination schedule, setting October 4 as the new date.

The petitioners alleged that holding the exam during a pandemic will amount to discrimination between states which are majorly affected by Covid-19.

They argued that as per Regulation 12 of the Indian Administrative Service (Appointment by Competitive Exam) Regulations 1955, no candidate would be appointed to the service if not found to be in good mental or physical health after the exam. The risk of candidates getting infected is high and those who succeed in the examination may fail the fitness test in the event they contract the disease.

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