The Delhi High Court has admitted a Writ Petition that sought direction on the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) to release the answer key for the preliminary examination of the Civil Services Examination 2023 before the final result is declared, rather than the current practice of publishing it after the declaration of the final result.

Pronouncing the operative part of the order, the Single Bench of Justice Chandra Dhari Singh said that the Court has acknowledged the issue of the maintainability of the Petition raised on behalf of the Respondent. It is pertinent to note that the prayer has been made for the release of the answer key of the preliminary examination, which is in itself qualifying in nature.

Advocates Saurav Agrawal and Rajeev Kumar Dubey appeared for the Petitioners while Advocates Naresh Kaushik and Shubham Dwivedi appeared for the UPSC.

The Judge pronounced the order that, "Petitioners herein are candidates disqualified and are not challenging their disqualification herein nor are they challenging the examination process but are making a mere request of disclosure of the answer key before the entire process is completed. Such a prayer cannot be said to per se leading to a dispute with respect to recruitment under Article 323A of the Constitution of India or under the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985."

The Court further held that "Once it is held that it does not fall within the ambit of dispute or compete with respect to recruitment it cannot be said that the Central Administrative Tribunal have exclusive jurisdiction to the said Petition. Therefore, this Court is of the opinion that merely asking for an answer key which may be used to assess the performance does not amount to any reference in the process of recruitment. On the question of Law, this Court is of the view that there is no hurdle in adjudicating the Petitioner and accordingly the Petition is admitted."

The Court clarified that the observations and remarks made in this order should not affect any other ongoing proceedings in different courts while in the present Petition, the order on merits shall be passed after hearing the parties. Accordingly, the Delhi High Court Delhi admitted the Writ Petition and will now consider it on September 26, 2023.

As per the press note released by the UPSC, the answer key for the prelims would only be made available after the entire examination process concludes. Seventeen civil services aspirants filed a Writ Petition challenging the said press note. It was submitted to the Court that such a decision of UPSC was arbitrary.

While the UPSC objected to the Petition's maintainability. They argued that the impugned press note is an integral part of the recruitment process, thus falling under the purview of the Central Administrative Tribunal. Consequently, they contended that the High Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain this petition.

Cause Title: Himanshu Kumar & Ors. v. The Union Public Service Commission & Anr [.W.P.(C)8626/2023]