The Constitution of India provides for four watchdogs i.e. the Supreme Court, the Election Commission of India, the CAG of India, the Union Public Service Commission that help to keep a check on different functions of the country. The Supreme Court keeps a check on the judicial functions of the country. Election Commission of India ensures free and fair elections in country. The CAG keeps check over the finances of the country. Similarly, the Union Public Service Commission is a watchdog to ensure fair recruitment on the various posts of civil servants.
UPSC is amongst the few institutions which function with autonomy and freedom. The Public Service Commissions were established by the Government of India Act, 1935 at the Provincial level which are known as the State Public Service Commission and the constitution of India gave it a constitutional status as autonomous bodies. Thus, it becomes necessary on the part of citizens to know and understand these organizations better.
WHAT IS PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION?
The Public Service Commission is the commission to which personnel matters for all officers, excluding Police, Judicial and Legal Officers, are referred.
The functions of the Public Service Commission (PSC) are mentioned in Article 107 of the constitution. This article gives the PSCs powers to appoint Public Officers, to remove and to exercise disciplinary control over public officers with the exception of those persons who come under the Police, Judicial and Legal Service Commissions.
Basically, Public Service Commission is the body for the recruitment of the officers or civil servants, other than police, judicial and legal officers.
Articles 315 to 323 in Part XIV of the Constitution of India provides for the establishment of a Public Service Commission for the Union and a Public Service Commission for each State. Each state has its own Public Service Commission known as State Public Service Commission with functions similar to the Union Public Service Commission. Besides that, there are Joint State Public Service Commission also in our country.
The Royal Commission was established by the British Government in 1923 in India under the chairmanship of Lord Lee who was from Fareham, England. It consisted of equal number of Indian and British members. The Commission submitted a report in 1924 in which it recommended that the Public Service Commission has to be established. At that time, the Lee Commission proposed for a provision that forty percent of future entrants should be British, forty percent Indians should be directly recruited and the remaining twenty percent Indians should be promoted from the provincial services.
This led to the establishment of the first Public Service Commission on 1 October 1926 under the chairmanship of Sir Ross Barker. It was also granted a mere limited advisory function and the leader of the freedom movement consistently stressed on this aspect. This then resulted in the establishment of a Federal Public Service Commission under the Government of India Act, 1935. Later on it was also given a constitutional status under that of the Constitution of India on 26 January, 1950.
• Article 315 – Provision of Public Service Commission for the Union and for the States.
• Article 316 - Appointment and term of office of the members.
• Article 317 - Removal and suspension of a member of a PSC.
• Article 318 - Power to make regulations as to the conditions of service of members and staff of the Commission.
• Article 319 - Prohibition as to the holding of offices by members of Commission when they cease to be such members.
• Article 320 - Functions of PSC.
• Article 321 - Power to extend functions of PSC.
• Article 322 - Expenses of PSC.
• Article 323 - Reports of PSC.
UNION PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION (UPSC)
The Union Public Service Commission was established under Article 315 of the Constitution of India. The terms and conditions of service of Chairman and members of the Commission are governed by the Union Public Service Commission (Members) Regulations Act, 1969. The Commission is maintained by a Secretariat headed by a Secretary with two Additional Secretaries, a number of Joint Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries and other supporting staff.
STATE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION (SPSC)
The Constitution establishes a Public Service Commission in each state of the country. It is possible for two or more states to have a Joint Public Service Commission. The basic policy of the Constitution is that each state should have its own Public Service Commission, but if for administrative or financial reasons it is not possible for each State to have a Commission of its own, two or more States may have a Joint PSC. The composition of the State Commissions is governed by the same constitutional provisions that apply to the Union Commission.
COMPOSITION OF UPSC AND SPSC
The U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C. both consist of a Chairman and other members appointed by the President of India and the Governor of the State respectively. The Commissions consist of 9 to 11 members including the chairman (though the number of members is not defined anywhere, and it changes from time to time and decided by the President in case of UPSC and by the Governor in case of SPSC). The current sanctioned strength of the PSCs is 11 (i.e., one chairman and ten members).
PROVISIONS FOR MEMBERS
Although no specific qualification is mentioned in the Constitution, but it makes it mandatory to have 50% of the members of UPSC to be the ones who have held government office for at least 10 years.
The person to be appointed as the members of the UPSC and SPSC should not hold any office of profit under the central or the state government.
In case, the office of the Chairman becomes vacant, the President shall appoint another member of the Commission as the acting chairman to perform the functions of the chairman in his/her absence. Similarly, the Governor of the State appoints one of the members of SPSC as acting chairman if the office of the chairman becomes vacant or if the chairman is unable to perform his duties.
TENURE OF MEMBERS
For the UPSC, every member can hold office for six years or till the time he attains the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. In the case of SPSC, the term is of six-year but the member can hold the office till he attains the age of 62 years, whichever is earlier. A member of any commission can submit his resignation any time to the President of India. The members of both UPSC and SPSC can be removed any time by the President on various grounds.
REMOVAL OF MEMBERS
Article 317 says that the members of both Public Service Commissions can be removed by the President before the expiry of their term if any of the following four circumstances exist:
• The member of the commission goes bankrupt.
• The member of the commission engages in any paid employment outside his official duties.
• The member becomes mentally or bodily infirm.
• For misbehaviour on the part of the member of the commission.
In cases of misbehaviour, the matter is enquired by the Supreme Court, if the member is found guilty, the President can remove him/her from his membership of the commission. The decision of the Supreme Court is binding on the President in such matters.
FUNCTIONS OF UPSC AND SPSC
The functions of the Commission under Article 320 of the Constitution are:
• Conduct examinations for the appointment to the public services of the Union and the states.
• Direct recruitment by selection through interviews.
• Appointment of officers on promotion/absorption/deputation.
• Framing and amendment of Recruitment Rules for various services and posts under the Government.
• Disciplinary cases relating to different Civil Services.
• Advising the Government on the matters referred to the Commission by the President of India.
CONCEPT OF JOINT STATE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
The Government of India Act, 1935 for the first time provided for the establishment of Joint State Public Service Commission for recruitment in two or more Provinces. This type of commissions is formed when two or more States request for the assistance of Union Public Service Commission in conducting a joint exam for recruitment to services in all these states. While the UPSC and the SPSC are created directly by the Constitution, JSPSC is created by the act of parliament at the request of the concerned state legislatures and thus it is a Statutory body.
The Public Service Commissions form a basic structure for ensuring and protecting the meritorious nature of the Indian civil services. It conducts the examinations throughout the country and sends its recommendations to the Government for recruiting personnel for All-India Services and Central Services in group A and group B and for recruiting people at various state posts. The role of the PSC is highly advisory in nature and is not binding on the government per se. But, the government is answerable to the Parliament if in case it rejects any advice of the commission. Above that, the PSC is only concerned with the examination process and not with the classification of services, cadre management, training, service conditions and other aspects. These matters are handled by the Department of Personnel and Training under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. The government consults the PSC on promotion and disciplinary matters. Hence, it becomes important to understand that the commission is highly responsible for the most crucial task.