On Thursday (September 24, 2020), The Supreme Court asked for a response from the Centre and the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on a plea wanting postponement of the civil services examinations which are supposed to take place in 2020 in view of the increase on cases of Covid-19 and also the floods. This case was heard by a bench of 2 justices: Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice Sanjiv Khanna. They posted the matter for hearing on September 28, 2020 and issued notices to UPSC and Centre.
The petitioners want a postponement of the exams by at least two to three months so that the heavy relentless rains and floods go away and also the number of Covid-19 cases reduces. Vasireddy Govardhana Sai Prakash had filed this plea along with others. The plea said that the decision of the UPSC to conduct the exam in accordance with the Revised Calendar leads to violation of the rights of the petitioners and those similarly situated, under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution. This article speaks about the right to practice their chosen profession/occupation of serving the public. 20 UPSC aspirants filed this plea with the help of Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava against conducting the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination which is going to be held on the 4th of October.
The plea states that a 7-hour long offline examination will be conducted. This exam will be taken by approximately six lakh students across the country in 72 cities all over the country. Conducting an exam in the country at a time where the cases have been on a rise constantly is nothing other than putting lives of lakhs of young ambitious students in danger of disease and death. To add up to the chaos, natural calamities like floods, incessant rain, landslides, etc. are likely to directly affect the life and health of the Petitioners and students. Hence, under Article 21, the Revised Calendar which is issued is utterly arbitrary, unreasonable, whimsical, and patently violative of the Right to Health and Right to Life of the Petitioners herein and lakhs of similarly situated students. The plea also stated that as the Civil Services Exam is a recruitment examination and not an academic examination and if it is postponed, there would be no question arising of loss or delay of the academic year. Many aspirants are facing gruesome hardships because of the non-availability of exam centers in their home town and due to this, they need to travel to other cities for taking the examination which is not only tiring but also unsafe as the house or PG accommodation or the hostels and hotels where they are living can be of poor quality in terms of hygiene. It is also appalling that the UPSC did not increase the number of Examination Centres despite the rapid increase in the Covid-19 cases and due to this, many aspirants have to travel hundreds of kilometers in order to reach their centers and they are forced to stay without their family members. The plea also stated that the traveling of students would lead to a high probability of such aspirants, getting affected while using public or private transportation.