The Supreme Court today said dismissed pleas seeking postponement of the UPSC Prelims 2020 scheduled for October 4. The civil services exam by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is held for entry into administrative positions in the government.
SC said that considering the fact that exams have been conducted in the recent passed, it is a testimony to the fact that the standard operating procedures of home ministry is followed to conduct such exams.
Here, the court said that UPSC has to ensure that each centre should limit the number of candidates to 100. Further, those suffering from cough and cold will be made to sit separately.
But, the apex court reiterated that Coronavirus positive candidates will not be allowed to enter examination centres since this will expose others to the virus. As per home ministry SOPs, COVID-19 patients aren't allowed to enter exam halls.
The court also added that it is not feasible to merge 2020 prelims and 2021 prelims. The SC bench added that this will lead to cascading effect on other exams.
When it comes to candidates who are giving their final attempt, the apex court has directed UPSC to consider that aspirants who were on their last attempt would be given another chance. This would be without extending the upper age-limit.
The bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar also said that the UPSC also allowed candidates to change their exam centres. It said that though there are concerns about non-availability of books, library facilities during the lockdown, there were online resources available.
The apex court added that there is no concrete proof the lack of transport facilities across all centres.
During the hearing, advocate Naresh Kaushik appearing for UPSC said that all preparations have been made and that the exam cannot be postponed at the last minute. He also added that the body has not received a single grievance.
All social distancing protocols will be followed, he added. Kaushik also said that a merger of 2020 and 2021 is not possible because all exam sheets have already been dispatched.
An SC bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar, Krishna Murari and BR Gavai heard the matter on September 28 and asked UPSC to file an affidavit citing the logical reasons for not postponing the examination.
In this affidavit, UPSC said that it was not possible to postpone the exam further. UPSC also said that since the aspirants are graduates and above, it is expected that they will behave responsibly.
It added that any further delay in the October 4 prelims will also delay the civil services prelims 2021 scheduled for June 27, 2021.
UPSC also said that it has incurred Rs 50.3 crore to arrange for the civil services preliminary exam.
However, responding to this affidavit, advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava said that there has been no response provided as to what happens to fronline COVID-19 warriors like doctors, defence personnel amidst the pandemic.
He also pointed out that states like Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have postponed their public service exams due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
This case pertains to petitions filed by aspirants seeking postponement of the civil services preliminary examinations due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the torrential rains across the country. The petitioners had stated travel difficulties and virus risks to seek a postponement.
The UPSC prelims was originally scheduled to be held on May 20. However, it was postponed to October 4 due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Every year, 1 million candidates appear for the prelims examination for entry into various administrative posts in the government. In 2020, the exam is scheduled for October 4. The shortlisted candidates will write the main examination on January 8, 2021.