HC asks CAT to expeditiously decide plea seeking reduction of cut off in UPSC’s CSAT exam

The Delhi High Court Wednesday asked the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) to expeditiously decide a plea seeking reduction of cut off marks from 33 per cent to 23 per cent for qualifying part 2 of the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) conducted by the UPSC as part of the Civil Services Examination, 2023.

A vacation bench of Justices C Hari Shankar and Manoj Jain refused to grant any interim relief and disposed of the plea filed by a group of aspirants challenging the CAT’s June 9 order denying them any interim relief.

“CAT is requested to decide the OA (original application) as expeditiously as possible. Needless to say, in accordance with principles of natural justice. The petition is disposed of,” the bench said.

Seeking interim relief, the petitioners submitted the matter is urgent in nature and staying the result will be in public interest as lakhs of other candidates are also affected.

Advocate Saaket Jain, appearing for the petitioner candidates, submitted that the CAT, before which their plea is already pending, has kept the matter for hearing on July 6, and prayed that it be directed to hear the petition expeditiously.

On June 9, the CAT had issued notice on the plea seeking reduction in the cut off marks but refused to grant any interim relief, and listed the matter for hearing on July 6.

The candidates then approached the high court challenging the tribunal’s order and said the matter will become infructuous by July 6. The petition prayed that the UPSC be restrained from acting any further on the prelims results declared on June 12.

The high court, however, said the prayer to stay the entire examination and the recruitment process cannot be granted.

“The tribunal has not thrown out your case. It has issued notice on your OA. The matter is now listed on July 6… no court will pass an order staying the entire CSE 2023. It is an ex-facie prayer which cannot be granted. There are plethora of judgments of the Supreme Court,” the bench said.

It said even if hundreds of students go to court, the balance of convenience can never be on staying the entire result of civil services examination.

The petitioners’ counsel said it was not their case that the questions were difficult but that they were out of syllabus, and alleged the UPSC has acted in an arbitrary manner, affecting lakhs of students.

The bench, however, said the CAT has not dismissed their plea and any adverse observation by the court will affect the petitioners’ case at the tribunal.

It said there are decisions which say that courts should not look at question papers.

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The petitioners are aggrieved over Paper 2 CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test), saying this year the UPSC came up with a paper which not only contained questions that were out of syllabus but which were also asked in IIT JEE Advance and CAT examinations.

The plea said according to the syllabus provided by the UPSC, a candidate needs to prepare for basic maths, numeracy and data interpretation of Class 10 level. The questions asked cannot be answered by anyone who possesses only basic knowledge of mathematics (Class 10 level).

The petition claimed the question paper was “discriminatory” for various categories of candidates from arts and humanities and other non-technical backgrounds, those from humble background who cannot afford special coaching, candidates from rural areas and even those from cities who have not studied higher level mathematics.

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