UPSC Prelims to be held on October 4 - Supreme Court dismisses the plea, adds that COVID-19 patients will not be allowed for the exams

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  • The Supreme Court dismissed the plea seeking delay and asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to issue appropriate directions to UPSC in case of any gap.
  • SC has ordered UPSC to make sure there are not more than 100 candidates at one centre.
  • According to the Supreme Court’s order, candidates who have tested positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to give examinations as it may expose other candidates to the disease.
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The Civil Services Examination conducted by Union Public Service Commission — to recruit various civil servants — is going to take place, as scheduled on October 4. The Supreme Court dismissed the plea seeking delay and asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to issue appropriate directions to UPSC in case of any gap.

The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Khanwilkar heard the plea seeking postponement of UPSC Examination 2020.

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“The deferment cannot happen. This will have a cascading effect on other examinations,” the bench told petitioners.

According to the Supreme Court’s order, candidates who have tested positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to give examinations as it may expose other candidates to the disease.

SC has ordered UPSC to make sure there are not more than 100 candidates at one centre. Moreover, special arrangements will have to be made for candidates who have a cough or cold.

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The Supreme Court has further orders UPSC to issue directions to the states to see if candidates with admit card can avail hotel accommodation near sub-centres/centres.

However, the Additional Solicitor General of India of SC said UPSC can give concessions regarding age to those candidates who are on their last attempt and/or are about to cross the age-limit. However, this concession will not be made available to others.

“An extra attempt is sought for the ones who are taking the last attempt as they might not be able to appear due to the pandemic. In this regard, we have impressed upon ASG to explore the possibility of giving them one more attempt at such exams without extending the age limit,” the bench said in its order.
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Moreover, the bench dismissed a plea to merge 2020 and 2021 prelims and asked UPSC to make available all facilities and follow all protocol.

UPSC has received no grievances, says counsel


Advocate Kapadia argued that people in rural areas who have downloaded the admit card will find it difficult to travel.

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“This is not new. This happens everywhere. Even due to climate, floods and students are not able to move out. Come out of your shell; you need to move out of your comfort,” the bench replied. The court further said that it has seen the comprehensive Affidavit and the arrangements by UPSC.

“If you want more security, argue on that. But, you cannot ask for postponement on the basis of the fact that some will not be able to give it,” the Bench said.

Advocate Naresh Kaushik, counsel for UPSC, told the court that UPSC has written to all the Chief Secretaries of all States and requested that public transport should run at an optimum level during the exam and also till October 3.

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Kaushik further said UPSC has received no grievances saying any candidate is facing any handicap.

“We have received requests to not postpone it further. I agree that the internet is also there to aid and help. There are 6 chances to appear in this exam. Submissions are too generalised,” Kaushik told SC.

UPSC had earlier told SC that it is impossible to defer examinations
Earlier on Monday, the apex court asked the UPSC to apprise it of the "logistical arrangements" made for conducting civil services preliminary exams on October 4 amid alarming cases of COVID-19 cases as well as floods in various parts of the country.
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Advocate Alakh Srivastava argued the Civil Services Exam, being a recruitment examination, is altogether different from an academic examination; and in the event of its postponement, there would not be any question of delay or loss of any academic session.

He further suggested alternative solutions —

  1. If the postponement is not possible, then merge vacancies of UPSC 2020 with UPSC 2021, which would also reduce the stated examination expenditure of UPSC for all stages. (Prelims, Mains & Interview).
  2. For those giving their last attempt, increase the number of attempts by one and age relaxation of at least a year.
  3. Opt-Out Scheme for those candidates who may not appear this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, let them have an option of Opt-Out this year and appear next year, irrespective of the fact that they have exhausted their number of attempts or age bar.
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) had opposed a plea seeking postponement of the prelims amid the pandemic and the floods.
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