The Centre has opposed a plea before the Supreme Court seeking extra attempts for candidates, who could not take the Civil Services (Main) exam held in January this year, due to Covid-19.

In a counter affidavit, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said: "The matter has been considered and it has not been found feasible to change the existing provisions regarding number of attempts and age-limit in respect of CSE (Civil Services exam).

"That it is also submitted that any relaxation to age-limit and number of permissible attempts due to Covid-19 pandemic could lead to similar demands being made by the other categories of candidates."

The DoPT added that it will also impinge on the chances of other candidates who are eligible as per existing provisions because it will increase the number of candidates competing with such candidates. "It will also lead to the similar demands by the candidates of other examinations conducted all over the country," it said.

The Central government said the Civil Services Main (written) Examination, 2021, was successfully conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) at 24 centres on the scheduled dates during the period from January 7 to January 16, throughout the country following due Covid-19 protocols, which did not mandate making any separate arrangement for Covid infected candidates.

The response from DoPT came on a plea filed by Arjit Shukla and others, who could not appear in some of the main exam papers since they contracted Covid-19.

The DoPT said the matter of extra attempt has been adjudicated by the top court in the past against the plea of hardships faced by the aspirants due to Covid-19 pandemic, but the same was not granted.

The Central government said the Civil Services examination 2021 was advertised by the UPSC on March 4,2021, with the scheduled date of preliminary examination on June 27, 2021, while the main written examination was scheduled to commence from September 17, 2021. However, the preliminary examination could not be held due to restrictions imposed amid the second wave of the Covid pandemic, and it was rescheduled on October 10, 2021. The Civil Service (Main) written examination was also rescheduled to commence from January 7 this year.

The UPSC has told the Supreme Court that there is no provision to conduct re-examination, if a candidate fails to take the test on the scheduled date for any reasons.

In an affidavit, filed in the top court, the UPSC said it usually holds 13 examinations apart from several recruitment tests during a year and there is no provision for holding re-examination in case a candidate fails to appear in the examination, for any reason including any ailment or accident incapacitating him or her to take the examination.

The petitioners had urged the top court to direct the UPSC to provide them an extra attempt, since it granted such similar options to candidates in other examinations.

A bench, headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, is likely to take up the matter on Thursday.

Two out of the three petitioners had to leave the main exam, held from January 7 to 16, in-between after appearing in some initial papers. The third aspirant could not appear in any of the papers due to Covid.