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'UPSC doesn’t have the authority to consider candidates submitting their degree certificates late as qualified for civil service examinations': Supreme Court Overrules Bombay HC decision

'UPSC doesn’t have the authority to consider candidates submitting their degree certificates late as qualified for civil service examinations': Supreme Court Overrules Bombay HC decision

The Supreme Court of India, on 20th July, (Tuesday) overturned the Bombay High Court's (Aurangabad Bench) decision regarding the Civil Services Examination Rules, 2020, granting Union Public Service Commission the authority to recognise a candidate, who has submitted his or her degree certificate after the cut-off date, as qualified to take the civil service examination under extraordinary circumstances.

The Supreme Court, although, did not interfere with the eventual relief given to the petitioners by the Bombay High Court, since it had last week allowed 5 applicants to attend the interview despite having submitted their mark certificates after the cut-off date. The Supreme Court, granted the requested remedy in light of the problems brought by the COVID epidemic. Simultaneously, the Court stated that it was a one-time exception with no precedent value (Deepak Yadav and others vs UPSC and others).

The Supreme Court of India, granted permission for five civil service aspirants who passed the mains but were disqualified for submitting their degree certificates late to attend the UPSC interview.

On 20th July, Tuesday, a panel of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna was hearing a special leave petition filed by the UPSC challenging the Bombay High Court's interpretation of Note II of Rule 7 of the Civil Service Examination Rules 2020.

The Bombay High Court (Aurangabad Bench) had stated the same opinion when it directed the UPSC, to accept two applicants who were unable to show their degree certificates along with their application form for the Mains test as qualified candidates. The applicants were unable to submit their degree certificates by the deadline since their university results were postponed owing to the COVID19 epidemic. In such cases, UPSC had allowed them to sit for the Mains test on the condition that they present the certificates once the results were released. Their university grades arrived before the Mains examinations, certifying them to have passed. However, the UPSC eventually rejected their nomination on the grounds that they had failed to provide proof of qualifying exams by the deadline.

While granting the writ petitions submitted by the aggrieved candidates, a division bench of the High Court comprised of Justices SV Gangapurwala and Shrikant D Kulkarni observed:

“Rule 7 Note II of the CSE Rule 2020 empowers the U.P.S.C. to treat a candidate who does not meet the requirements outlined in the rules as a qualified candidate in extraordinary circumstances.”

Taking issue with the High Court's interpretation, the UPSC petitioned the Supreme Court. Today, UPSC counsel Advocate Naresh Kaushik pointed to the Supreme Court's judgement of 16th July, Friday, allowing 5 civil service applicants to attend for interview on equitable grounds, despite having provided proof of qualifying examinations after the cut-off date. According to the lawyer, such relief was not provided on the basis of any legal entitlement.

Taking this into consideration, the bench stated that the High Court's view will be overturned.

This appeal raises questions that have already been answered; thus, this appeal is disposed of on the same reasons. Nonetheless, any statement of law made by the High Court that is inconsistent with the order passed by this Court on 16th July, is deemed to have been overruled, the bench stated in the order.

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