COVID-19 protocol did not make any "special arrangements" for civil services candidates who fell sick of the virus but still wanted to appear for the Mains held across 24 centres in the country between January 7 and 16 this year, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
"Civil Services Main (Written) examination 2021 has been successfully conducted at 24 centres by the UPSC on the scheduled dates between January 7 and 16, 2022 throughout the country following COVID protocols which did not mandate making separate arrangement for COVID-infected candidates," the UPSC said in an affidavit.
The exam body was responding to pleas by three civil services aspirants who wanted a second chance at the Mains as they were down with COVID when it was held in January.
The UPSC said decisions regarding compensatory or extra attempt or age relaxation was a "policy matter" and fell within the domain of the Department of Personnel and Training.
The commission said it usually holds 13 examinations apart from several recruitment tests during a year.
"There is no provision to hold re-examination in case a candidate failed to appear in the examination on the scheduled dates for any reason, including ailment/accident incapacitating him or her to take the examination. In the past, the commission has not held any re-examination under similar circumstances," the affidavit said.
The UPSC has a constitutional obligation to supply manpower to the government in a timely manner to fill the vacancies in crucial positions. The commission has to follow its schedule of exams which is prepared well in advance, it said.
Re-examination would have a cascading effect and derail post examination activities.
Accommodating requests for a second opportunity would lead to a chaotic situation where no exam could be completed on schedule. Vacancies would remain unfilled for an indeterminate period and public interest would suffer, the UPSC explained.
It said multiple chances were anyway given to civil services aspirants in case they lose an opportunity to take the exam due to some exigency.