“Watch-dogs of the merit system.”
Breaking Down the Basics
Articles 315 to 323 of Part XIV of the Constitution, titled as Services Under the Union and the States, provide for a Public Service Commission for the Union and for each State.
The Union Public Service Commission – UPSC – is an independent body; it is the premier central recruiting agency.
First established as the Public Service Commission on 1st October 1926.
Reconstituted under Government of India Act 1935 as Federal Public Service Commission.
Post-Independence it was renamed as the Union Public Service Commission.
UPSC is a constitutional authority, one of the few such institutions which function with both autonomy and freedom, along with the country’s Higher Judiciary and lately the Election Commission.
The Commission is charged with the responsibility for appointments to and examinations for All India Services and group A and group B central services.
All India Services include IAS, IPS, and IFS (Indian Forest Service)
Central Services (Group A) – BSF, CRPF, BRES etc.
Central Services (Group B) – Indian Foreign Services, etc.
Article 315 provides for the establishment of a Public service commission for the Union and for each state or a joint Public service commission for group of states.
Current Affairs POI - Pradeep Kumar Joshi has been appointed the chairman of the Commission in August 2020 – he is an educationist.
Features of the Commission
Official details on UPSC and State PSCs can be found on their official sites.
Powers and Functions
Under Article 320 of the Constitution of India, the Commission is, inter-alia, required to be consulted on all matters relating to recruitment to civil services and posts.
The functions of the Commission under Article 320 of the Constitution are:
- Conducting examinations for appointment to the services of the Union;
- Directing recruitment by selection through interviews;
= Appointment of officers on promotion / deputation / absorption;
- Framing and amending Recruitment Rules for various services and posts under the Government;
- Hearing disciplinary cases relating to different Civil Services;
- Consulting on all matters related to personnel management; and
- Advising the Government on any matter referred to the Commission by the President of India.
Any additional functions relating to the services of the Union can be conferred on UPSC by the Parliament. Hence the jurisdiction of UPSC can be extended.
The functions of State Commissions are similar to those of the Union PSC, with the only difference being its jurisdiction.
- It conducts examinations for appointments to the services of the state.
- It is consulted on the following matters related to personnel management.
- All matters relating to methods of recruitment to civil services and for civil posts.
- The principles to be followed in making appointments to civil services and posts and in making promotions and transfers from one service to another.
- Respective departments make recommendations for promotions and request the SPSC to ratify them.
The additional functions relating to the services of the state can be conferred on State Public Service Commission by the state legislature.
The jurisdiction of UPSC extends across the entire Nation, while the State PSCs have limited jurisdictions within their respective States.
State PSCs perform all the functions that Union PSC performs in respect to State services.
UPSC annually presents to the president a report on its performance.
The President places this report before both the Houses of Parliament, along with a memorandum explaining the cases where the advice of the Commission was not accepted and the reasons for such non-acceptance.
All such cases of non-acceptance must be approved by the Appointments Committee of the Union cabinet.
Hence the advice of the Commission is not binding on the government.
State Public Service Commission presents, annually, to the governor a report on its performance.
The governor places this report before both the Houses of the state legislature, along with a memorandum explaining the cases where the advice of the Commission was not accepted and the reasons for such non-acceptance.
Therefore, the advice of State PSCs is not binding on State Government.
On ceasing to hold office certain limitation are placed –
The chairman of UPSC is not eligible for further employment in the Government of India or a state.
A member of UPSC is eligible for appointment as the chairman of UPSC or a State Public Service Commission (SPSC), but not for any other employment in the Government of India or a state.
The chairman or a member of UPSC is not eligible for reappointment to that same office again i.e. for a second term.
UPSC is not consulted on the following matters-
While making reservations of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens.
While taking into consideration the claims of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in making appointments to services and posts.
With regard to the selections for chairmanship or membership of commissions or tribunals, posts of the highest diplomatic nature and a bulk of group C and group D services.
With regard to the selection for temporary or officiating appointment to a post if the person appointed is not likely to hold the post for more than a year.
The president can exclude posts, services and matters from the purview of the UPSC.
The Constitution states that the President, in respect to the All-India Services and Central Services and posts may make regulations specifying the matters in which, it shall not be necessary for UPSC to be consulted. But all such regulations made by the president shall be laid before each House of Parliament for at least 14 days. The Parliament can amend or repeal them.
For detailed description of each Constitutional Provision, click here.