Mrunal Manmay Dash

New Delhi: A writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court by a group of 28 civil service aspirants seeking an extra attempt in 2021.

As per the applicants, they could not appear for their last attempt in the UPSC examinations held in October 2020 due to "exceptional circumstances" created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The petitioners said that due to restrictive protocols and guidelines such as mandatory quarantine and containment zone regulations put to check the spread of COVID-19 last year, they could not appear in the UPSC exam held on October 4, 2020. They lost their last attempt due to circumstances beyond their control.

Joining the bandwagon, a group of other UPSC aspirants, who had appeared for their last attempt exam in October 2020, also filed an intervention application with this writ petition.

They too sought an extra attempt by saying that their preparations for the highly competitive civil services exams were badly affected due to the problems created by the pandemic and the lockdown. Some of them were called upon to do medical duties as 'COVID Warriors'. Some of them had to due to essential services during the COVID pandemic.

Some others lost their family members to COVID and some others were battling anxiety and depression due to loss of livelihood.

They further said that they were constrained to appear in the October 2020 exam as it was their last attempt, despite the fact that they were suffering from mental stress, trauma and physical exhaustion.

It is pertinent to mention here that a total of 10,336 aspirants, who had appeared in their last attempt in 2020, will benefit if the Apex court grants them another chance. However, they are merely 0.97% of the total applicants enrolled, the petitioners said.

In February this year, the Supreme Court had dismissed a writ petition which sought extra chance for candidates who had exhausted their last attempt in October 2020 citing the COVID-19 pandemic and the national lockdown.

(With inputs from Live Law)