UPSC Extra Attempt Case A Tale Of Years Of Struggles Of Aspirants

The Delhi Police Tuesday detained students who were protesting in the Old Rajinder Nagar area demanding an extra attempt to clear the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam. These students have been making this demand for the last two years. Not only UPSC aspirants, but candidates of other government exams are also seeking an extra attempt and age relaxation on the plea that their preparation got affected due to Covid-19.

Many of the aspirants are those who lost their family members to Covid-19. They were suffering from Covid themselves on the exam days or just before the papers. Some aspirants had the last attempt to crack the exam and many of them had the last chance as per UPSC’s age limit criterion.

What Are The Concerns of Aspirants?

UPSC aspirants are demanding an extra attempt or age relaxation so they can appear in the exam. 

“I served during the first, second, and third Phase of COVID. Essential Services Act was imposed on us and we were not allowed to leave the duty. In fact, we never wanted to leave our duty and the nation amid the pandemic crisis at the cost of our UPSC studies. I precisely recall that I worked 14-16 hours in hospital wards tirelessly serving the patients; there were no beds, no oxygen, and no protocol to serve the patients, still we gave our blood and sweat…,” said Dr Vidya, who was a junior resident at AIIMS during the peak of the pandemic, while speaking to ABP Live.   

At the time of the pandemic, the PM showered flowers on frontline workers. And now when we are asking for compensation in the form of an attempt, the government is not listening to us.’’ She added. 

Gyanendra Srivastava, an aspirant from Gorakhpur, said: “I tested positive for Covid-19 just three days before the examination scheduled on October 4, 2020. I was denied a chance to sit in the examination, which was my last attempt. There were no separate arrangements in the examination hall for Covidpositive aspirants. For the last two years, we have been fighting for a compensation against the lost attempt.’’

Ajinath Kedar,is a resident of Pune, told ABP Live: “I could not appear in the exam as my family members were in ICUs. I had to look after them rather than focusing on exams. We just need a compensatory extra attempt to appear in the exam, which we were denied due to the Covid pandemic.”

He added: The Supreme Court in the Abhishek Anand Sinha case has already asked the executive to take a lenient view regarding our demand, but the government ignored it. The departmental standing committee (DSRC) report also recommended to the government to give us relaxation, but to no avail. The aspirants of SSC GD Recruitment, which comes under the DOPT, got relaxation in age and also got an extra attempt. We also need this.” 

Aspirants Approached Supreme Court 4 Times

In the ‘Vasireddy vs Union of India’ case (30.09.2020), the court asked the government “to explore the possibility of one extra attempt”. The judges in ‘Rachna vs Union of India’ case (24.02.2021) observed that the “decision of Supreme Court of India in no way restricts the Union of India in exercising their discretion in granting an extra attempt”. Similarly, it was advised in the ‘Abhishek Anand Sinha vs Union of India’ case (22.07.2021) that the “Union of India to take a lenient view towards aspirants in light of the heartbreak situation they faced due to the pandemic”.  

In yet another (31.03.2022) case (‘Arijit Shukla vs Union of India’), the Supreme Court directed the government to reconsider the representation of aspirants, and also mentioned that the Union of India is bestowed with the necessary discretion of granting an extra attempt under Regulation 4 of the Indian Administrative Service (Appointment by Competitive Examination) Regulations, 1955.

Parliamentary Committee Report Recommended Extra Attempt 

The Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public, Grievances, Law, and Justice had recommended (24.03.2022) that these aspirants should be given an extra chance.

“The Committee is of the opinion that COVID-19 has caused untold agony and insurmountable sufferings to many. The whole of India had come to a standstill, lives and livelihoods got disrupted and the student community was also adversely affected. Keeping in view the hardships faced by the student community during the first and second COVID waves, the Committee recommends the Government to change its mind and sympathetically consider the demand of CSE aspirants and grant an extra attempt with corresponding age relaxation to all candidates, the report said.

What Is The Stand Of UPSC?

According to the Parliamentary Committee Report, on being asked if the commission is considering giving an extra attempt and benefit of age relaxation to all candidates in view of the Covid havoc, the UPSC had replied that the issue had been brought before the Supreme Court of India vide writ petitions filed by the aspirants. Based on the judgments passed by the court, it said, the matter had been considered and it was not found feasible to change the existing provisions regarding the age limit and number of attempts in respect of the civil services examination. 

UPSC Aspirants Issue Raised In Parliament

Recently, Demands of UPSC Aspirants have also been raised in parliament. Member of Parliament, representing Thoothukkudi constituency in the Lok Sabha raised the issue of the COVID-19 compensatory attempt & age relaxation to the affected aspirants in Zero hour of Parliament on December 19, 2022.

CategoryWise Age Limit And Attempts For CSE

Candidates must be at least 21 years of age and must not be more than 32 years of age.

 General Category & EWS: 32 years; 6 attempts

OBC (with certificate): 32 years + 3 years; 9 attempts

SC/ST: 32 years + 5 years; unlimited attempts

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