The Supreme Court on Thursday said UPSC civil service aspirants, who could not appear in their last attempt exam on account of directions regarding isolation of COVID-19 patients and their family members, can make representation to appropriate authority seeking one more chance.
The apex court said the authority may consider all aspects of the matter and take a “lenient view” in light of the situation prevailing at the relevant time.
A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Sanjeev Khanna was hearing pleas seeking an extra chance for aspirants who could not appear in their last attempt in October 2020 exam as either they or their family members were infected with COVID-19 and were in isolation as per the directions issued by the local authorities under the Disaster Management Act.
“According to the writ petitioners, they form a separate class - as they were forced not to appear in the examination on the given date(s) on account of directions issued by the local authorities under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, including the general directions regarding isolation of Covid-19 patients and family members of Covid-19 patients,” the bench noted in its order.
The apex court observed that it may have “full sympathy” with the applicants and similarly placed students for the difficult situation and the resultant consequences they may suffer but the issues raised by them are covered by the verdict delivered by a three-judge bench in February this year.
“The only indulgence that can be shown to the petitioners, including the applicants (interveners/impleaders), is to allow them to make representation to the appropriate authority, who may consider all aspects of the matter and take a lenient view in the light of the prevailing situation at the relevant time, if so advised,” the bench said.
The bench, which disposed of the pleas, said it is not expressing any opinion either way with regard to the feasibility of resolution of the issues so raised and all the aspects in that regard are left open.
In its February 24 verdict, the apex court had dismissed a plea seeking extra attempt for those who had either exhausted their last chance in the 2020 preliminary exam amid the Covid-19 pandemic or got age barred from appearing in future tests.
During the hearing, one of the counsel appearing for the applicants said that some of the aspirants could not appear in the exam as either they or their family members were infected with Covid-19 and they could not go out of their home because of the guidelines regarding isolation of such patients.
“Either we grant relief to everybody or we don’t grant it,” the bench orally observed during the hearing, adding, “otherwise there will be huge chaos”.
It said the judgment delivered in February this year “closes the chapter”.
In its February verdict, the apex court had dismissed the petition filed by civil service aspirants and clarified that its decision would not restrict the Centre in exercising its discretion in the future to deal with the difficulties as projected to the court.