Central Administrative Tribunal Issues Notice To UPSC On Plea Seeking Reduction In Cut Off For CSAT From 33% to 23%

    The Central Administrative Tribunal today issued notice to the Union Public Service Commission on a plea seeking reduction in the cut off for qualifying Part II (CSAT) exam conducted by UPSC last month from 33% to 23%. The matter was listed today before the Principal Bench of the Tribunal.

    However, the Tribunal has refused to direct the Commission to keep the preliminary result in abeyance as prayed for by the applicants, advocate Saaket Jain told the LiveLaw. The matter is listed now on July 06 for further consideration.

    Alleging that the difficulty level of the questions was similar to those asked in CAT and IIT JEE examinations, some of the candidates of the 2023 Civil Services Examination have challenged CSAT exam conducted last month and asked the Tribunal to direct the Commission “to reduce the cut off for Paper II CSAT from 33% to 23%.”

    “Alternatively, this tribunal should direct the commission to conduct a re-exam for Paper II (CSAT) as part of Civil Services Preliminary Examination 2023,” the plea prays.

    The applicants have argued that as per the UPSC syllabus, CSAT is designed to test the general aptitude of candidates, and they are expected to possess the ability to solve basic questions relating to comprehension, logical reasoning, etc., at the Class X level.

    “Going against the syllabus provided, UPSC has come up with a paper which cannot be cleared by anyone who possesses only basic knowledge of mathematics (Class X level) as the difficulty level of the questions is similar to that of questions asked in CAT examination and IIT JEE examination,” the plea alleges.

    According to the plea, the Paper II (CSAT) conducted by the UPSC was not only out of syllabus but it is also discriminatory for candidates of humble background who cannot afford special coaching or belongs to rural areas or from arts stream.

    The applicants have also said that this year at least 10 questions were asked from a topic, which is a part of Class XI NCERT Mathematics Syllabus, and questions were also taken from previous years exams from IIT JEE or CAT.

    “When a qualifying paper is made that difficult it excludes the candidates on the basis which has no nexus with the object of the exam,” the plea argues, adding that since this exam contained questions that are out of syllabus and questions that are not Class X level, same may be examined by an expert committee and then further action regarding these questions be taken on the basis of recommendations of the committee.

    The plea argues that though UPSC has a discretion in setting the question paper but the same cannot be immune from judicial review if it is otherwise discriminatory, arbitrary and falls foul of the constitution.

    “The paper II (CSAT) conducted by the UPSC is not only out of syllabus but it is also discriminatory for the various categories of candidates i.e., candidates of humble background who cannot afford special coaching, candidates of rural background, candidates from arts/humanities and even for the urban candidates who have not studied higher level mathematics,” it adds.

    Alleging that questions were taken even directly from the CAT and JEE-Advanced question papers, the plea argues that though there is no prohibition in taking questions from other competitive exams but same should be in consonance with the overall objective of the recruitment as to what kind of a candidate is to be selected.

    Case Title: Siddharth Mishra & Ors. V. UPSC

    Counsel for applicants: Advocate Saaket Jain

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