Nepal | October 22, 2020

Decision to prohibit COVID patients from PSC exams draws flak

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The decision to prohibit COVID-19 patients from appearing in examination conducted by the Public Service commission has drawn criticism from various sectors.

The PSC had recently issued the criteria for conducting the examination, saying that people infected with COVID-19 and living in isolation would not be allowed to take the examination.

The candidates were required to declare themselves infected or not in order to qualify to appear for the examination. The commission also stated that action would be taken as per the existing law if any one violated the rule.

Human rights activists and members of civil society criticised the decision as it violated the guarantee of various rights enshrined in the constitution.

Mohana Aansari, commissioner of National Human Right Commission said it was a very serious matter that the government body itself was acting against basic human rights guaranteed by the constitution. “It (PSC) does not have right to issue such a protocol. It’s against the right to employment, and right to life.” She further said that one’s life is not finished just because one contracts the virus, but aspiring future government employees who have spent many months preparing for the examination can be largely affected by the rule.

Similar opinion was expressed by Charan Prasai a human rights activist, who thinks it’s against the concept of equal opportunity for all citizens guaranteed by the constitution. “The government should manage separate examination facility for those infected with the virus. It cannot so easily escape its duty by leaving out hundreds or even thousands who contract the virus.”

Advocate Pankaj Karna said that since no one was sure what percentage of the population could contract the virus, it was unwise of the PSC to decide to this effect.

“This is a wrong decision.

The government should create alternatives to let those people appear in the examination.”

The PSC would have been already conducted multiple examinations had there not been the lockdown since March 24. The government, however, after pressure from different sectors, had around a month ago agreed to conduct the examination by following safety protocols during the lockdown.

As per the safety protocols, each examination centre will be set up for 100 candidates.

One examination hall / room will be managed with a maximum of 25 candidates allowing only one examinee at one table. Similarly, only one examination centre will be kept in one building. The PSC’s protocol, however, has also mentioned that if the building and premises are typically larger than normal centres it can be placed with more than one centre.

This standard shall be followed while conducting examinations, interviews, group discussions, presentations, etc., related to all kinds of experimental/skill test examinations conducted by the PSC.

A version of this article appears in print on October 13, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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