Delhi HC agrees to hear UPSC aspirants’ plea for answer key

The judge held that the petitioners are not challenging their disqualification nor the examination process, but are making a mere request for disclosure of the answer key.

Published: 14th September 2023 09:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th September 2023 09:31 AM   |  A+A-

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Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  The High Court on Wednesday admitted a plea by a group of unsuccessful Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) aspirants seeking the publication of the answer key of the prelims examination of the Civil Service Examination 2023.

While agreeing to hear the 17 UPSC aspirants’ plea, Justice Chandra Dhari Singh said merely asking for the publishing of the answer key does not amount to interference in the process of recruitment.

The plea contended that when a competitive exam is conducted, the answer key to the multiple choice questions is prepared in advance and can be released right after the examination, giving candidates a fair idea of their performance.

The court noted that the answer key for the Civil Service Exam “which in itself is a stand-alone examination which is qualifying in nature, and the score attained by a qualified candidate is not added to the subsequent stages of examination” is essential to determine the rank and final selection. “ in view of the precedents and exposition of the law, this Court is of the view that there is no hurdle in adjudicating the instant petition,” the court ordered.

The high court also dismissed UPSC’s submission that the plea couldn’t be entertained before the court as it involved the examination of candidates’ legal and fundamental rights, encompassing aspects like equitable treatment, reasonable expectations, and the entitlement to information. The court noted that the request for disclosure of answer key or the marks attained in a public service examination, would warrant and essentially entail an adjudication of the legal and fundamental rights of the candidates including fair play, legitimate expectation, and the right to know.

“In any case, where the enforcement and protection of Fundamental Rights or any rights of a person is sought, this Court cannot look the other way,” it was asserted. It was also clarified that the present order is restricted only to the question of maintainability. The order shall be passed after hearing both the parties, the court said posting the arguments on September 26.

‘Not disputing disqualification’

The judge held that the petitioners are disqualified from the recruitment process are not challenging their disqualification nor the examination process "but are making a mere request for disclosure of the answer key.” 

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