A last chance for UPSC aspirants, who exhausted all attempts in the exam last October amid the Covid-19 pandemic, is turning into complex issue. After the Centre agreed to one extra attempt for Civil Service Examination (CSE), specifically limited to CSE-2021, the Supreme Court on Monday sought to know if it is possible to give relaxation in age to these candidates.
A bench headed by Justice A. M. Khanwilkar told Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, representing the Centre, that these are extraordinary circumstances, and the government should not be rigid.
Agreeing to the final attempt, the Centre had said: "Relaxation, only to the extent of providing one extra attempt for Civil Service Examination (CSE), specifically limited to CSE-2021, may be granted to only those candidates who appeared for CSE-2020 as their last permissible attempt and are otherwise not age-barred from appearing in CSE-2021."
The top court, however, pressed that government should consider giving age-relaxation as a one-time measure. The Centre had told the top court that no relaxation can be granted for CSE-2021 to those candidates who have not exhausted their permissible number of attempts or to those candidates who are otherwise age-barred from appearing in CSE-2021 as per the prescribed age limits of different categories, or to any other candidate for any other reason whatsoever.
In the context of this stand taken by the Centre, senior advocate P.S. Narsimha, representing one intervenor, argued if anyone which requires consideration, it is the age barred group.
Senior advocate C.U. Singh, appearing for a petitioner, argued that if all the 2,236 candidates had lost their last chance last year are age-barred, and if it is not relaxed, all SC/ST candidates, handicapped candidates would be excluded and for this category of candidates, there is no limit in number of attempts.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing some petitioners, also pressed upon the issue of age bar relaxation.
During the arguments, the bench observed that if it allows this now, then a pattern may emerge for another examination. But Divan argued why somebody who faced the similar difficulties amid the pandemic be denied the benefit of extra chance due to age.
Centre's counsel argued that if age relaxation is given in this matter, then other candidates may also come.
After a detailed hearing in the matter, the bench asked Centre to explore a way out through age relaxation. Centre's counsel asked the top court to adjourn the matter till Tuesday, as he would like to seek instructions from the authorities concerned. The bench will continue to hear the matter on Tuesday.
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