Civil service candidates who exhausted their final attempt last year amid the coronavirus pandemic will get one more chance to appear in the UPSC exam, provided they are within the eligible age limit, the centre told the Supreme Court today.
"This relaxation for the candidates... shall be a one-time relaxation only and shall apply only for appearing in CSE-2021 and shall not be treated as a precedent," the centre said in a note to the Supreme Court today.
"We appreciate your stand," a bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari said today, and adjourned the proceedings to Monday.
Rachna Singh, who has been preparing for one of the most competitive exams in the country conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), had filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking one more chance to attempt the test. Ms Singh claimed the disruption caused by the pandemic left many civil service aspirants unable to prepare well.
The civil services preliminary exam scheduled on May 31 last year was eventually held on October 4.
In an affidavit earlier, the centre had said the claim by the petitioner that candidates could not prepare well for the exam due to stress amid the lockdown necessitated by the pandemic was not entirely true as they were given extra time to prepare by postponing the civil service (preliminary) examination from May 31 to October 4, 2020.
In September last year, the Supreme Court told the centre and the UPSC to consider giving an extra chance to candidates who otherwise had their last attempt in 2020, with a corresponding extension in the upper age limit.
However, on January 22, the centre said it was not in favour of giving another chance to those aspirants citing it would create a "cascading effect, detrimental to the overall functioning and level-playing field necessary for a public examination system".
At least 4,86,952 candidates appeared for the exam on October 4, according to government data.
The main exam for civil services 2020 was held from January 8 to 17. Over 10,000 candidates were shortlisted for the main exam, based on marks they got in the preliminary exam.
The notification for civil services exam this year is scheduled to be released on February 10.
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