The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a petition seeking postponement of upcoming Civil Services Examination, 2020.
The Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna has posted the matter for hearing on September 28, 2020.
"Liberty is granted to serve advance copy on the Standing Counsel for the Union Public Service Commission as well as on the Standing Counsel for the Central Agency representing Union of India through email/online."
The plea has been filed by 20 UPSC aspirants through Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava against conducting of the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination 2020, on October 4. They have submitted that this 7 hours long Offline exam, which will be taken by approximately six lakh aspirants at test centres in 72 cities across India, is likely to be a big source of further spread of the Covid-19 virus.
It is therefore submitted that the Revised Calendar for UPSC exam is utterly arbitrary and patently violative of the Right to Health and Life of the aspirants, under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The Petitioners have submitted that for fear of risk of illness or death, they may not be able to take the captioned examination. Thus, it is contended that the Revised Calendar violates their right to practice their chosen profession/occupation of serving the public, under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution.
It is further contended that the Revised Calendar suffers from class-based discrimination and violates Article 14 of the Constitution, inasmuch as students belonging to the middle class and/or lower middle class will not be able to afford transport, accommodation, or other expenses to take the examination amid a pandemic. Furthermore, it violates Article 16 of the Constitution as it deprives many of the aspirants from equal opportunity in public employment.
The Petitioners therefore seek postponement of the Civil Services Exam for 2 to 3 months, so that the flood/ incessant rains go away, the COVID-19 curve may flatten and the State Governments, who are otherwise "admittedly unprepared" as of today, get more time to prepare themselves for implementation of SOPs of the said Exam.
It is highlighted that Civil Services Exam, being a recruitment examination, is altogether different from an academic examination and thus in the event of its postponement, there would not be any question of delay or loss of any academic session.
Other grounds taken by the Petitioners are listed below:
- Many Civil Services aspirants, who are already working as Frontline COVID Warriors in different hospitals and/or administrative departments. It would not only be difficult for them to leave their place of work and travel to their Examination Centres, but their absence at their workplace at such critical times may lead to immense suffering to the COVID patients and/or COVID management.
- In many of similar large-scale examinations conducted recently, virtually there were no SOPs followed, no social distancing maintained and every tall claim of the Respondents have virtually failed on ground.
- Due to lack of at least one examination centre in every district of India and due to the fact that many students have returned back from their place of study to their hometowns, today there are many students whose Examination Centres are 1000 KMs apart from their present place of residence.
- COVID-19 has been found to be airborne and in many cases it is asymptomatic. This is increasing the possibility of its spurt at the large gatherings of students/ their parents at the Exam Centre.
- Many districts/ municipal bodies are still imposing Complete Lockdown in their respective areas. Many big cities have several containment zones. Free movement of students is restricted in such areas, causing a lot of harassment.
- Students would be required to wear the masks for more than 7-8 hours on the date of examinations and thus would be forced to reduced oxygen level, resulting into slowed down brain function and thus it is even in the interest of justice to postpone these Exams in the interest of health of the students.
- Even as per the Unlock-4 Guidelines, all libraries, colleges, educational and coaching institutions are also closed and hence many of the aspirants have been deprived from adequate preparation of the said Exam.