The Department of Personnel and Training sent a communication to the UPSC earlier this week, which contained a list of suggestions received by the government from agitators opposed to the current format of the CSAT paper which is part of the Preliminary Exam.
According to DoPT sources, the UPSC has since sent detailed responses to each of the suggestions, along with the reasons why a majority of them would be difficult to implement at this late stage of the 2014 examination cycle.
Significantly, the communication, sent by DoPT Secretary S K Sarkar to UPSC chairman D P Agarwal, sought the commissions response on postponing the Preliminary Exam by a month, and on the possibility of the CSAT marks (currently 200 marks) not being tabulated at all during evaluation and, if this was not possible, scrapping the CSAT paper altogether.
Officials said the UPSC has given reasoned responses to each of the proposals. It has said that postponement at this stage was difficult because over nine lakh candidates had enrolled for the exam over a year ago, and over two lakh candidates had already collected their admit cards.
UPSC is also understood to have stressed the huge logistical exercise involved in conducting the exam in over 2,000 centres across India.
On suggestions that the CSAT marks be qualified or not added to the marks tally, or that the CSAT paper be cancelled for the current year, the commission is learnt to have cautioned that adopting either course of action at this late stage might invite vexatious litigation.
UPSC has also said the recommendations of the Arvind Verma panel, which submitted its report to the government on Thursday, should be taken into consideration before a final decision.
The DoPT communication, officials said, also mentions the option of candidates possibly those who had exhausted all their attempts before 2011 when the new CSAT format was introduced being given one more chance to take the Preliminary Exam. The UPSC has given the government some leverage on this suggestion, adding, however, that its views on capping the number of attempts have been reiterated before, and the implications of this proposal should also be examined carefully.