NEW DELHI: The civil services exam scheduled on October 4 cannot be postponed over the coronavirus crisis, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) told the Supreme Court on Monday (September 28). The top court was hearing a request seeking the postponement of civil services exam.

The UPSC exam was earlier scheduled on May 31, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was rescheduled for October 4.

A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar asked the Commission to file an affidavit stating its stand by September 29 and posted the matter for further hearing on Wednesday (Sept 30).

The apex court was hearing a plea filed by a group of UPSC aspirants seeking postponement of the upcoming Civil Services (prelims) Exam 2020. During the hearing, advocate Naresh Kaushik appearing for the UPSC submitted before the bench that it's completely impossible to postpone the exam.

"The matter was considered and deferment was done, but it was realised that deferment would completely hurt the process of the exam. It was supposed to be held on September 30. Thereafter, it was deferred to October 4. Deferment would nullify the objective of conducting the exam for four arms of government," Kaushik submitted.

The bench then asked Kaushik to file a short affidavit listing down the logistical reasons for not postponing the exam.

The petition has sought postponement of the Civil Services Exam for two to three months in view of the flood, incessant rains in several parts of the country.The COVID-19 curve may also flatten and the State governments, who are otherwise admittedly unprepared as of today, get more time to prepare themselves for implementation of Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) of the Exam, the plea said.

The plea, filed by a group of 20 UPSC aspirants through advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, submitted that this seven-hour long offline exam will be taken by approximately six lakh aspirants at test centres in 72 cities across India is likely to become a big source of further spread of the COVID-19 across the country.

It submitted that for fear of the risk of illness or death, some aspirants may not be able to take the examination.

"The revised calendar for UPSC exams suffers from class-based discrimination and violates Article 14 of the Constitution, inasmuch as students belonging to the middle class and/or lower middle class will not be able to afford transport, accommodation, or other expenses to take the examination amid a pandemic," the plea said seeking quashing of the revised calendar.

Furthermore, it said that the calendar violates Article 16 of the Constitution as it deprives many of the aspirants of equal opportunity in public employment.

"Quash the Revised Calendar, 2020, issued by the UPSC, whereby it has been decided to conduct the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2020, on October 4, despite alarming spurt of COVID-19 pandemic and natural calamities in our country, for being violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India," the plea said.