Centre agrees to one-time age relaxation, says ‘no’ for future

Thousands of youths to be benefitted

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Feb 8: The Centre Government has agreed to give one-time relaxation of five years in qualifying age for Union Public Services Commission (UPSC) candidates of Jammu and Kashmir after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti took up the matter with Union Minister, Incharge Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Dr Jitendra Singh, first on telephone followed by an official communication.
The issue also figured in the Legislative Assembly where Leader of Opposition and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah called for immediate steps by the State Government to restore the age relaxation saying thousands of students, who had prepared themselves for the UPSC examinations, were shocked to see the notification wherein the age relaxation for Jammu and Kashmir candidates, which was going on for past 28 years, had been discontinued. Omar also targeted Dr Jitendra Singh, albeit without naming him, saying the age relaxation has been withdrawn at a time when Minister Incharge DoPT hailed from the State.
Official sources told the Excelsior that Mehbooba rang up Union Minister Incharge DoPT and Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Dr Jitendra Singh this morning after getting reports that five years age relaxation for J&K candidates in the UPSC examinations had been withdrawn from current year.
Dr Jitendra Singh is reported to have stated that 11 North Eastern and Himalayan States had also started pressing for age relaxation at par with Jammu and Kashmir and since this was not possible for the DoPT to cover so much States, the DoPT was left with no option but to treat all States at par by withdrawing the relaxation from J&K.
Moreover, the DoPT was of the view that circumstances in 1990 when the age relaxation was extended to Jammu and Kashmir, were “exceptional”, which didn’t exist now.
However, since thousands of students have already prepared for the examinations, the DoPT Minister is reported to have agreed for one-time extension for Jammu and Kashmir candidates.
In the evening, the Chief Minister also dispatched a written communication to the DoPT seeking extension in age relaxation for J&K candidates, in the UPSC exams.
“Spoke to MoS PMO @Dr Jitendra Singh Ji regarding the enhancement in the upper age limit for UPSC aspirants of J&K. He has assured me of positive response,” Mehbooba tweeted this evening.
According to sources, the DoPT Minister reportedly wanted the State Government to send out a message that age relaxation will be for one-time only as some candidates have prepared for the examinations and in future exams, no such extension will be granted as many other States especially from North East and Himalayan have also started asking for it.
Sources pointed out that one-time extension in age relaxation for the UPSC aspirants would benefit thousands of candidates, who would become eligible for appearing in the UPSC examinations. The age relaxation will be for five years in all categories.
“The DoPT now would be seeking sanction from Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) and Legislative Body for one-time five year relaxation in qualifying age for the UPSC aspirants,” sources said, adding that as soon as the sanction is received, a notification for relaxation in age would be issued for this particular year only.
In future, the age relaxation will be stopped.
They pointed out that the age relaxation for UPSC examinations to Jammu and Kashmir students was extended in 1990 when situation was “extremely disturbed” and large-scale migration has also taken place. However, they said, such circumstances didn’t exist now and, therefore, the relaxation period has to be withdrawn.
Earlier in the day, Leader of Opposition in Assembly and NC MLA Omar Abdullah demanded the Government to seek enhancement from the Centre for relaxation in upper age limit of the State’s youth appearing for the UPSC examinations.
“The special dispensation was being renewed after every two years. We don’t know why this was stopped suddenly”, the former Chief Minister said and demanded its immediate restoration.