UPSC defers civil services preliminary exam scheduled for May 31

The decision on the fresh date of the examination will be taken on May 20 after assessing the COVID-19 situation

The Centre changed its earlier stance of not allowing aspiring candidates another chance at appearing for the exams. Representational image: PTI

The civil services preliminary examination, scheduled to be held on May 31, has been deferred, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has said.

The decision was taken during a meeting held by the commission, which was chaired by Arvind Saxena, on Monday (May 4) to review the situation after the second-phase of the COVID-19-induced nationwide lockdown.

“Taking notice of the extension of restrictions, the commission decided that it will not be possible to resume examinations and interview for the present,” the UPSC said in a communiqué.

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The civil services (preliminary) examination 2020, scheduled to be held on May 31, therefore, stands deferred, it said.

“From inaccessibility of exam venues due to the lockdown since schools have been turned into quarantine centres, to ensuring that students had enough time to book tickets to reach the centres, the UPSC had to address a host to issues to be able to hold the exam on May 31, it would have been very difficult ,” Hindustan Times quoted an official as saying.

More than 10 lakh people register for the civil services preliminary exam every year, with the involvement of at least 1.5 lakh functionaries to conduct the exam at more than 2,500 centres across the country.

“The UPSC has done what needed to be done,” an official who wished to remain anonymous told Hindustan Times. “In the current scenario with COVID-19 spreading, it is not feasible to hold such a large scale exam,” he added.

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The admit cards for these exams were supposed to be released this week, going by the original date of exam.

“The decision on the fresh date of the examination will be made available on May 20 after assessing the situation,” the statement noted.

Union minister Jitendra Singh had earlier said students will be given prior notice regarding postponement of the exam and added that they will be given sufficient time so that they do not face any issues in travelling to their examination centres.

In line with the above statement, the UPSC statement said, “As and when the dates are decided for the deferred tests/examinations, it will be ensured that candidates are given a notice of at least 30 days.”

Furthermore, this raised concerns that the recruitment process for civil services may be delayed to due to the deferral of the exam. However, former UPSC chairman Vijay Singh told Hindustan Times that this was not worrisome.

“We have to keep in mind not everything else has been postponed as well. The preliminary exam is huge exercise carried out in a number of centres. The logistics are vast and expansive with people involved across the country. UPSC can’t afford for anything to go wrong, it has to maintain its reputation and the exam has to be conducted in a way that no doubts are raised about it,” Singh was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.

“All that may happen is that the recruitment process may be a little delayed but that’s not a real big deal,” he added.

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