No extra chance will be given to Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) aspirants who exhausted their last attempt in October 2020, the Supreme Court said today, dismissing a plea that sought another shot at the civil service examination sighting the coronavirus pandemic and also wanted a relaxation on the age limit.
The top court called the petitioner's reasoning that the pandemic had disrupted studies a "lame excuse" to get more chances to appear for the highly competitive examination.
"The petitioner's claim on COVID-19 pandemic is nothing but a lame excuse in taking additional attempt to participate in the exam," the court said in its detailed verdict.
A three-judge bench hearing the case had said only one word - "dismissed" - and did not read the judgment further.
The top court's verdict said that it is a policy decision of the government and judiciary cannot legislate.
"Many exams have been conducted during COVID and if Supreme Court shows indulgence to few it will set a precedent which will have cascading effect on examinations in other streams," the verdict read.
The government had agreed to another chance at the examination for those whose final attempt was last year but not the one-time relaxation on the age limit that the petition asked for.
The petitioners wanted an extra chance saying they could not prepare well for last year's exam due to disruptions during the pandemic. They also wanted age barred candidates to be given another chance.
The Supreme Court had taken the matter up with the Centre on a petition seeking an extra chance to appear in one of the most competitive exams in the country for government service.
Initially, the government was reluctant to allow those who exhausted their last chance in 2020 to sit in the exams for a final time. However, earlier this month, the Centre agreed to the Supreme Court's move to check if it was possible to give one more chance, if a candidate is within the age limit and eligible to take the exam.
"We appreciate your stand," the Supreme Court had told the Centre.
The top court had then asked the Centre to consider a one-time waiver of age as a qualifying criterion for civil service aspirants for whom the 2020 exam was the final attempt. It was pointed out that if age limits were relaxed, there would be only 2,236 additional candidates, who could benefit if an extra chance was provided to them.
The court also added that, if this were to be granted, it would be a one-time measure and could not set a precedent for future cases.
The Centre did not agree to this and the top court dismissed all petitions today, even scrapping the last ruling of a final attempt at the examination.
The civil services (preliminary) exam was scheduled for May 31 last year and was eventually held on October 4, after the UPSC told the top court the exams could not be postponed any longer.
Every year stipulates six attempts for general candidates till the age of 32. The OBC candidates have nine attempts till 35 years while SC/ST candidates have unlimited attempts till they are 37 years old.
The UPSC conducts examinations for appointment to central government services. Among other functions, it appoints officers on promotion, deputation and absorption and also frames and amends recruitment rules for different services and posts under the government.