Assam civil service aspirants now permitted to write prelims and main papers in Assamese

Assam, Nov 29: Assam Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma announced that the state civil service aspirants can write both their preliminary and mains examinations in Assamese along with English.

By virtue of the decision Assam has become the first state in India to introduce the Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) for aspirants to appear in the state civil services examinations, the chief minister told a press conference here.

The PRC is mandatory for the admission of a student to several educational institutions, particularly in engineering and medical colleges in the state.

The announcement comes close on the heels of the recent Cabinet decision to abolish Assamese as the qualifying language paper, a criterion that was introduced by the previous BJP government in the state in 2019.

Assam CM said that some youths had sent him messages requesting that they be allowed to write the state civil service examination in their mother tongue.

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Regarding the abolition of the qualifying language paper, Sarma said that the previous system was “unfair” for the students from the Brahmaputra valley, both from Assamese and English medium educational institutions as they had to appear for an additional paper.

The aspirants from Barak Valley and the sixth schedule districts in the state were on the other hand exempted from this. “The abolition of Assamese as a qualifying paper is in the interest of all aspirants from the state. Opposition parties, particularly Congress, have no right to criticize as they had not introduced it. The decision on the qualifying paper was taken by the erstwhile Sarbananda Sonowal government,” he added.

Several Assamese youths had approached the Gauhati High Court on the issue and the case is still pending. High Court has asked the government to justify the introduction of a qualifying paper for some aspirants while exempting others.

The advocate general told me that will not be possible to justify the introduction of a qualifying paper as it goes against the very essence of Article 14 of the Constitution … The cabinet decision has been welcomed by the students,” Sarma added.

The BJP led government has now introduced three conditions that will benefit the aspirants from the state, he claimed.

We have made it clear that the aspirant must be a resident of  Assam, registered in the employment exchange of the state and must speak fluently either Assamese or associate languages Bodo or Bengali, or any other tribal language of the state and also Hindi as many people in the state speak the language”, he said.

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The APSC Rules were amended in 2019 according to which applicants had to appear for a compulsory language qualifying paper in Assamese or associate languages Bodo or Bengali, except for those from the sixth schedule districts.

Following this, the Manipuri community of Barak Valley had appealed to the government that they should be exempted from appearing in the qualifying paper. The government subsequently passed an order exempting all aspirants from Barak Valley from appearing in the qualifying paper.

Candidates of the Brahmaputra Valley then contested this in the Gauhati High Court and the case is still pending. The court has, however, allowed APSC to hold the preliminary exams this year. The government will appeal to the High Court to vacate the case, Sarma said.