The Supreme Court on Friday as a special case allowed five civil service candidates, who had cleared the UPSC main examination but were disqualified for not submitting the degree certificates by the cut-off date, to appear for the interviews.
A bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna directed that the candidates be allowed to take the interviews as a special case as it noted that their universities declared their results late due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top court said that these five candidates will be in addition to the already published list for the candidates short-listed for the interviews.
It noted that earlier the Union Public Service Commission ( UPSC ) had allowed several candidates, who had cleared preliminary examinations, to appear for the main examinations despite the fact they had not produced the qualifying examination certificates along with their application form, on furnishing an undertaking.
The bench said that it would be inequitable to deny these five candidates an opportunity of continuing with the UPSC examination as they were placed in a peculiar situation, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and their universities could not declare the result of the examination on time.
The top court said that it is passing the order while exercising its power under Article 142 of the Constitution and treating the matter as a special case. It said that order shall not be treated as precedent and is passed in peculiar facts and circumstances of the case.
Advocate Tanya Shree, appearing for the petitioner, has told the top court that they were allowed to appear in preliminary examinations of UPSC on October 4, 2020, by furnishing an undertaking after their respective universities failed to declare results of the final examination due to COVID-19.
She said that they have cleared the preliminary examination as per the results declared on October 23, 2020.
She further said as per rules, the candidates, who have cleared the preliminary examinations have to fill a detailed application form and submit proof of qualifying examination for appearing in main examinations.
The cut-off date for submitting the proof was November 23, 2020, but after their results were not declared by their respective universities, they were allowed to appear in main examination in January after furnishing an undertaking, the petitioners said, adding that their university results were declared later and they were declared as pass.
The petitioners further pointed out that UPSC had later cancelled their candidature for not submitting the proof of qualifying examination within the cut-off date resulting in withholding of the main examination results.
The UPSC has claimed that as per rules which are sacrosanct for the commission, the candidates had to submit the proof of qualifying examination at the time of submitting the detailed examination form, which many students complied with while many students failed to comply with.
The candidates in their plea have said that cancellation of their candidature is arbitrary, unreasonable, and discriminatory amongst the candidates for the UPSC. ( PTI )