New Delhi, Sep 13 (SocialNews.XYZ) The Delhi High Court on Wednesday admitted the plea filed by 17 civil services aspirants challenging the decision of Union Public Services Decision (UPSC) to publish the answer key of the prelims of Civil Services Examination 2023 only after declaration of final result.
Justice Chandra Dhari Singh pronounced the judgement after having reserved it on August 2.
The court made the observation that by simply requesting for publishing of the answer key does not constitute interference in the recruitment process, and therefore, there are no obstacles in admitting the plea.
Justice Singh stated that a further order will be passed based on the merits of the case after hearing both parties.
The court acknowledged that the prayer to disclose the answer key involves the adjudication of fundamental and legal rights of the candidates, and in such cases where rights are being enforced, it cannot ignore the matter.
Justice Singh pointed out that the plea was brought forth by disqualified candidates who did not challenge their disqualification or the examination process; instead, they were simply requesting the publication of the answer key before the entire process concludes.
While the judge listed the matter for next hearing on September 26, it clarified that the court's remarks in this order will not impact any other ongoing proceedings in other courts.
On August 2, Justice Singh had recorded the submission of the aspirants’ counsel that the other two prayers in the petition – challenging the preliminary examination and to re-conduct the exam – are not being pressed in the matter.
The counsel was also granted time to file written submissions on the aspect of maintainability of the petition.
On July 3, the high court had asked the UPSC to file its preliminary objections on the plea.
The plea also challenges the press note issued by the UPSC on June 12 declaring the results of the preliminary examination.
In it, the UPSC had stated that “candidates are also informed that marks, cut off marks and answer keys of CS(P) Examination, 2023 will be uploaded on the Commission’s website --. https://upsc.gov.in -- only after the entire process of the Civil Services Examination 2023 is over, that is, after the declaration of final result”.
It was submitted that the impugned press note has been challenged on the ground that the UPSC is not making available the answer key to the candidates calling the decision “arbitrary”.
The plea seeks direction for UPSC to publish the answer key with immediate effect. Counsel also contended that the high court has the jurisdiction to adjudicate the grievance of the civil services aspirants.
Earlier, advocate representing the UPSC Naresh Kaushik had raised an objection saying that the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) should handle the matter as it is the competent forum and where another group of aspirants have already moved seeking reduction in the cut off from 33 per cent to 23 per cent for qualifying Part II (CSAT) exam.
He said that maintainability of the petition and submitted that the Administrative Tribunals Act bars the high court to adjudicate the dispute regarding recruitment process.
He further submitted that the impugned press note is also a part of the recruitment and thus, the high court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain the petition.
The petitioners have alleged arbitrariness in the conduct of the recruitment cycle, citing the lack of provision of answer keys, disregarding candidates' representations, and posing excessively vague questions that require guesswork.
They have argued that releasing the answer key after the exam would ensure fairness and allow candidates to have a better understanding of the evaluation process.
The petition also highlights that other institutions, such as state Public Service Commissions, IITs, NLUs, IIMs, and the High Court of Delhi for the Delhi Judicial Service Examination, promptly release provisional answer keys and invite objections from candidates before finalising the answer key based on those objections.