“Whether Deadline To Upload EWS Certificates For Civil Service Exams Can Be Extended’: Supreme Court Issues Notice On UPSC’s Plea”

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice on the Special Leave Petitions pertaining to whether the deadline to upload the certificates to avail reservation under Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) for the UPSC exams can be extended.

A Bench comprising Justices Rohinton F. Nariman, Hemant Gupta and BR Gavai heard the matter and proceeded to issue notice on the SLPs as well as on the prayer for interim relief, returnable in three weeks. The Respondents have been directed to file a Counter Affidavit within two weeks.

The SLPs challenge a September 11, 2020, order rendered by a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court comprising Justices Talwant Singh and Siddharth Mridul, wherein the Court had upheld an order of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) dated 13 January, 2020. It had been contended before the CAT that, as reservation for the EWS category was being provided for the first time in history of India on the basis of the 103rd Amendment of the Constitution, the concerned authorities were not aware about the procedure to be followed for issuing EWS certificates. Due to this, the candidates wishing to availing the same, were unable to obtain the certificates before the prescribed date, i.e. 1st August, 2019.

After taking into consideration this submission, the CAT allowed the stipulated dated by which the candidates/applicants could have obtained the EWS certificate to 16th August, 2019. However, the prayer for further extension by a class of candidates who could not obtain these certificates even by the extended date was rejected. Both UPSC and the candidates approached the High Court challenging the CAT order. The UPSC was aggrieved with the CAT order extending the deadline to August 16, 2019.

The High Court upheld the order of the CAT order to the extend the deadline was pushed to August 16, 2019. However, the High Court refused to accept the plea of candidates that the EWS certificates uploaded after August 16, 2019 should also be accepted.

The High Court noted that the Supreme Court had iterated that the process of examination or selection, once set in motion, was not to be interfered with.

“It is true that there may be difficulties at individual level in obtaining the EWS certificates but the common public interest demands that the dates fixed for any important examination like CSE-2019 should not change and the same should be respected otherwise it will open flood gates for candidates to approach the learned CAT or higher courts at the drop of a hat at every stage of civil services examination to interfere with or to postpone the dates of submission of forms or examination and to claim other related reliefs and no finality can be attached to the said examination process or the dates prescribed for the same till the last moment, which will jeopardise careers of hundreds of young men and women, who aspire to join this service and work hard to attain their life-cherished goal”. The Court also held that the allocation of cadres and training of the selected candidates had to start and could not be kept in limbo, hence the dates could not be interfered on any pretext which would not serve the larger public interest.

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