The Supreme Court on Thursday directed UPSC to disclose the number of candidates who would qualify for the interview from amongst the civil service aspirants whose candidature were cancelled and similarly placed persons.
The bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Sanjiv Khanna was hearing the petition by civil services aspirants whose candidatures had been cancelled due to non-submission of educational qualification proof on the specified date. The bench observed that “We may however note that in the affidavit filed by the UPSC certain facts are mentioned in paragraph 13. We want the counsel of UPSC to reassure the position and give the correct figures.”
Thereafter, the bench listed the matter tomorrow for hearing.
The petitioners are final year students of undergraduate courses of the University of Delhi at the time of filling out the application form of Civil Services, 2020.
The plea stated, “On account of nationwide lockdown declared due to Covid-19 pandemic, the final year examination of the Petitioners herein were conducted in August 2020 instead of July 2020 by the University of Delhi. Consequently, the results were also declared only after November 11, 2020.”
The Petitioners, who were successful in Civil Services Preliminary Examination, 2020 were issued admit cards for the Civil Services Mains Examination, 2020 by the UPSC on the basis of DAF-1(Detailed Application Form-1) along with the undertaking given by the Petitioners that they will submit the requisite proof of educational qualification as soon as the results are declared by the University. After the Petitioners appeared for Civil Services Mains Examination, 2020, the UPSC vide Letter dated March 12, 2020, cancelled the candidature of the Petitioners on the ground that they have not submitted proof of requisite educational qualification. It is noteworthy that the Petitioners herein had given an undertaking to the UPSC that they will submit proof of qualifying examination as soon as results are published. Consequently, they have provided UPSC with their requisite degree certificates but the same has not been considered by the UPSC.
The plea said that “the candidates who are successful in Civil Services Mains Examination are required to produce the original copy of their documents at the time of Personality Test. Therefore, in any event, the candidature is provisional and the UPSE would be verifying the documents at the stage of the Personality Test. Thus, exclusion of Petitioners on the ground that they have not submitted proof of their educational qualification by due date i.e. November 11, 2020, without taking into consideration the fact that the results of the Petitioners were declared only after November 11, 2020, on account of the unprecedented situation arising out of Covid-19, reeks of unreasonableness and is manifestly arbitrary, which results in denial of equal opportunity to the Petitioners in matters of public employment.”
It further submitted that the letter dated March 12, 2021, does not take into consideration the fact that once the admit card of Civil Services Mains Examination, 2020 was issued on the basis of undertaking given and the Detailed Application Form-1 and the Petitioners herein were allowed to appear in the written examination, the principle of estoppel would apply against the UPSC.
The plea also stated that UPSC herein is estopped from denying the Petitioners right to be considered for Personality Test, especially when they fulfil the required educational qualification.
The plea urged that the cancellation of candidature of students at this stage would render the whole year of the Petitioners a waste, for no fault of theirs. That the Petitioners had bonafide applied to sit for the UPSC examination and were selected for Civil Services Mains examination on the basis of their hard work and perseverance. Denying them the right to be considered for the Personality Test only on the ground that they did not submit the proof of educational qualification by November 11, 2020, would be a grave injustice to them as the delay is occasioned by circumstances beyond their control.
The Counter-Affidavit has been filed by UPSC contending that “conditions of eligibility cannot be relaxed for certain individuals on different grounds” as the same would be contrary to the tenets of Article 14 and Article 16.