The UPSC exam, to have been held on May 31, was finally held on October 4 (Representational)

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court has asked the centre to consider a one-time waiver of age as a qualifying criteria for civil service aspirants for whom the 2020 UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) exam was the final attempt. The centre, represented by Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, said the court’s request would be presented to the concerned authorities and a response filed tomorrow.

On Friday the centre said candidates who had exhausted their final attempt last year – the exams were held in October and it was argued the coronavirus pandemic led to heightened stress during preparation – would get a second (and final) chance this year, so long as they were within age limits.

However, the petitioners also wanted relaxation of age as a qualifying criteria, arguing that it would otherwise affect candidates from marginalised communities. It was pointed out that if age limits were relaxed, there would be only 2,236 additional candidates.

“Do not be rigid. Though it is a policy decision, such policies should be made keeping in mind the ground realities. This is an extraordinary situation… and for some candidates (such as corona warriors) these are genuine cases. Only around 2,000-odd candidates will benefit,” the court said.

The court also stressed that, if this were to be granted, it would be a one-time measure and could not set a precedent for future cases.

The centre made a similar point last week, while allowing some candidates a second chance.

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“This relaxation for the candidates… shall be a one-time relaxation only and shall apply only for appearing in CSE-2021 and shall not be treated as a precedent,” the centre said in its affidavit.

“We appreciate your stand,” the court responded.

The civil services (preliminary) exam was scheduled for May 31 last year and was eventually held on October 4, after the UPSC told the top court the exams could not be postponed any longer.

20 candidates had approached the court, asking that the exam be deferred by two to three months due to the flood situation in several parts of the country, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

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