The Narendra Modi government declared on Tuesday it was not considering any proposal to reduce the age limit of civil service aspirants in an announcement that effectively buried the UPA's last-minute decision to bring down the upper age limit by four years.
The announcement came against the backdrop of newsreports that suggested the Modi government would implement the decision finalised by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) earlier this year.
"There is no proposal before the government to reduce the age limit for civil services," a government spokesperson said.
Instead of reducing the age limit, the government has already announced that civil service aspirants -- who may have lost out due to changes in the exam pattern -- would get two additional attempts and consequential age relaxation.
Government sources told HT there had been several attempts in the past to explore the possibility of reducing the upper age for the civil services examination, right from the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government's tenure.
"But they were all nipped in the bud due to opposition from the political class that feels it would put rural candidates at a disadvantage," a senior official said, conceding that the politicians "did have a point".
The official said the Manmohan Singh-led Prime Minister's Office (PMO) too had been keen on reducing the age profile of civil service candidates but was not able to have its way.
The empowered group of ministers of the UPA asked to study recommendations of the Administrative Reforms Commission, however, had approved the decision to fix 26 as the upper age limit for unreserved candidates, 28 for OBC, 29 for SC/ST candidates with an additional 2 years for physically challenged aspirants.
"But this decision does not mean anything since all decisions of the previous government would be reviewed, and processed afresh," an official said.