Delhi HC junks plea claiming questions in Civil Services Aptitude Test out of syllabus

The Delhi High Court has dismissed a petition, which had claimed that some of the questions asked in the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT), a preliminary test in the Civil Services Examination 2023, were not in accordance with the notified syllabus.

Dealing with the petition filed by several unsuccessful candidates, a bench headed by Justice V Kameswar Rao observed that what needs to be included in the question paper is in the exclusive domain of academic experts and the same cannot be challenged before a court on the ground that the questions were out of syllabus.

The petitioners argued that although the CSAT syllabus is supposed to be of Class-10 level arithmetic or mathematics, a large number of questions were those that evaluate candidates for admission in engineering institutions and therefore, candidates with a humanities background were not accorded a level-playing field.

“The only ground set up by the petitioners to attack the question paper is that some questions were of Class 11 and 12 level. Suffice it to state, the decision as to what questions need to be included in the paper and what should be the nature and complexion of such questions necessarily remains in the exclusive domain of the panel of academic experts. Such a decision cannot be assailed before us in judicial review only on the ground that some questions were out of syllabus,” said the bench, also comprising Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta, in an order dated August 22.

The court observed that it was not for it to examine or question the wisdom of the panel of experts that prepared the question paper and re-assess the relative merit of the questions.

This court cannot sit in appeal against the considered decision of a panel of academic experts, unless such a decision is demonstrated to be manifestly arbitrary, malafide or illegal, which is not the case in the present matter, it added.

The petitioners had assailed an order passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) refusing to act on their grievance.

The court noted that according to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the examination was conducted in a fair manner, strictly in accordance with the rules and instructions governing its conduct.

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