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Last attempt candidates appeal for extra attempt at UPSC exams

May 9, 2021
-Dipta Joshi

As many as 10,336 aspirants to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) civil service exams are demanding they be allowed to appear for the upcoming exams on June 27 2021. If granted, it would be an extra attempt for all the aspirants who are ‘last attempt candidates’ for the year 2020. They now fear if denied the opportunity to appear for the civil services exam in June this year, they will no longer be eligible for any further attempts at the prestigious civil services exams.

Hailing from across the country, the ‘last attempt candidates’ are just 0.97 percent of the total 10,56,835 applicants who enrolled for the 2020 exam. The aspirants, many of whom are doctors and essential service providers have been the frontline workers all through the COVID-19 pandemic since last March when the country went into a lockdown.

Considered one of toughest exams, the UPSC civil services exam has more than 10-lakh enrolling for the preliminary stage exams to compete for the 800-1000 or so vacancies across various administrative streams like the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS) etc. The exams however have restrictions on age (up to 32 years for general category) as well as examination attempts (maximum of six). Candidates are expected to appear for the preliminary, main and the personality tests comprising an interview.

Last year in view of the pandemic, the UPSC preliminary exams were postponed to October 4, 2020 (instead of May). However, civil service aspirants filed several petitions in the Supreme Court highlighting the various difficulties faced by candidates this year. The petitions explored the possibility of granting an extra attempt to the candidates.

After a slew of hearings, the Central government agreed to provide relief to one section of aspirants. On February 5, it informed the Court its decision to grant one more opportunity to aspirants who were not age-barred (those not over 32 years of age) and to those who had already exhausted their permissible number of attempts (six attempts).  Later, the Apex Court too dismissed the case citing it as a matter of policy and leaving it to the discretion of the government.   

“The Court has left the decision to the government so we want the government to grant everyone an extra attempt because if we lose this opportunity, then we will be considered attempt exhausted or/and age-barred and thus ineligible to appear for preliminary exams are scheduled next month (June 27). Apart from the doctors and other frontline workers who kept working during the pandemic keeping aside their exam preparations, so many aspirants faced illness and death in their families which set them back. UPSC aspirants, especially from the North-Eastern states had internet connectivity issues while those in Jammu & Kashmir faced prolonged lockdown etc.,” says an aspirant who preferred to remain anonymous.  

UPSC aspirants want the Civil Services Commission to review and pass a more sympathetic decision. Meanwhile, two more petitions have been filed in April with the Supreme Court. UPSC aspirants launched a social media campaign using twitter #UPSCExtraAttempt2021 which has been trending on social media.

“This year has been an abnormal year and so the government must allow an extra attempt to all ‘last attempt candidates’ without any conditions attached. The pandemic and the sudden lockdown had a major impact across the country and UPSC aspirants who have put in a lot of efforts preparing for the exams deserve the opportunity. Their plight must be taken into consideration,” says Anubha Sahai, president, India-wide Parents Association who has been supporting the UPSC aspirants’ demands.

Meanwhile, as a precautionary measure in view of the prevailing conditions caused due to COVID-19, the Union Public Service Commission deferred the personality tests (candidate interviews) for the Civil Services Examination, 2020. Last year the UPSC preliminary exams were conducted on October 4, 2020 and its results were declared on October23, 2020. Candidates who cleared the prelims then appeared for the mains that was held between January 8-17, 2021 this year, results for which were announced on March 23,2021. The personality tests or candidate interviews were scheduled from April 26 to June 18, 2021.  

Also read: JEE exams postponed, students are an anxious lot

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