The Delhi High Court has recently asked the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to present its preliminary objections regarding a plea filed by several civil services aspirants. The petition challenges the decision of UPSC to publish the answer key of the prelims examination for the Civil Services Examination 2023 only after the declaration of the final result. This article explores the details of the case and the arguments put forth by both parties.
Background of the Case
On June 12, the UPSC released a press note regarding the declaration of results for the Civil Services Examination 2023. The press note stated that the answer key of the prelims examination would be published only after the entire process is completed. Seventeen civil services aspirants filed a plea challenging this decision, claiming that the UPSC’s approach is arbitrary and unfair. The plea, filed through Advocate Rajeev Kumar Dubey, seeks a direction for the immediate publication of the answer key.
During the hearing, the counsel representing the petitioners informed the court that they are not pressing two prayers challenging the preliminary examination and the request for a re-conduction of the exam. Instead, they focused on the main contention that the UPSC is withholding the answer key from the candidates. The petitioners argue that this decision is arbitrary and violates principles of fairness, logic, and rationality. They also assert that the High Court has the jurisdiction to address the grievances of civil services aspirants.
UPSC’s Preliminary Objections
In his representation of the UPSC, attorney Naresh Kaushik made a preliminary challenge to the petition’s capacity to be maintained.He argued that the Administrative Tribunals Act prohibits the High Court from adjudicating disputes related to the recruitment process. According to him, the press note in question is part of the recruitment process, and thus, the High Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the petition. Kaushik further pointed out that the aspirants have the option to approach the Central Administrative Tribunal, where another group of aspirants has already filed a plea seeking a reduction in the qualifying cut-off for the Part II (CSAT) exam.
Justice Chandra Dhari Singh, while refusing to issue notice on the plea at this stage, listed the matter for the next hearing on July 26. The court has asked the UPSC to file its preliminary objections before the next hearing. The decision of the court to not issue a notice suggests that it has not yet made a decision on the merits of the case. The court will consider the arguments and objections presented by both parties before reaching a conclusion.
The plea filed by civil services aspirants challenging the UPSC’s decision to publish the answer key of the prelims examination for the Civil Services Examination 2023 only after the final result has garnered attention from the Delhi High Court. While the petitioners have dropped their prayers challenging the preliminary examination and the request for a re-conduction of the exam, they continue to assert that withholding the answer key is arbitrary.
On the other hand, the UPSC argues that the High Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the petition, as the matter falls within the realm of the recruitment process. The court’s decision to ask for preliminary objections indicates that a detailed examination of the case is yet to take place. The hearing scheduled for July 26 will shed further light on the matter and provide clarity on the issue at hand. The court’s decision will determine the fate of transparency and fairness in the civil services examination process.
Case Title: Himanshu Kumar v. UPSC & Anr.