Manipur govt in favour of UPSC exam centres outside state: Delhi HC told

The Delhi High Court was on Tuesday informed that the Manipur government is in favour of having centres outside the troubled north-eastern state for holding civil services preliminary examinations, which are scheduled to be held on May 26.

The counsel appearing for the Manipur government told the court, which was hearing a plea seeking the setting up of additional examination centres there for civil services and Indian Forest Service aspirants, that the chief secretary has said the government would provide monetary assistance to these aspirants for travel to centres outside the state which is in the grip of protracted ethnic strife.

In view of the stand taken by the Manipur authorities, a bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan observed that the examinations may be held outside the state, as held last year, and asked the UPSC counsel to take instructions.

“Take a call. Follow the 2023 pattern then. We will ask UPSC to take instructions. Prima facie we are of this view,” the bench, also comprising Justice Manmeet PS Arora, said.

“Counsel for the UPSC is directed to take instructions,” the court said.

Petitioner Zomi Students Federation moved the high court last week, seeking to set up examination centres in Churachandpur and Kangpokpi in the state and reopening the application window to enable civil services aspirants to opt for a centre of their choice.

The counsel for the Manipur government said the chief secretary of the state, in a letter addressed to him, said the state government is of the opinion that given the situation and to maintain the sanctity of the examination, it may not be appropriate to provide centres in Churachandpur and Kangpokpi.

The letter suggested that students in Manipur, who have to take the civil services examination, may be allotted centres outside the state and financial assistance would be provided to them.

The counsel stated that even last year, the civil services examinations were held in centres outside Manipur.

Counsel for the UPSC had earlier told the court that the commission has already written three letters to the Manipur chief secretary with respect to the opening of examination centres in Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Ukhrul but no response has been received yet.

Manipur plunged into violence in May 2023 over a high court order directing the state government to consider including the non-tribal Meitei community in the list of Scheduled Tribes.

This order led to rampant ethnic clashes. More than 160 people have been killed and several hundred injured since ethnic violence first broke out in the state on May 3 when a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the majority Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe status.

The matter would be heard next on March 22.

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