Union Public Service Commission (U.P.S.C) – History, Functions, Powers

Union Public Service Commission (U.P.S.C) in India

The success and effectiveness of public administration depends essentially on the ability impartiality and honesty of the bureaucrats. As such the responsibility of selecting such type of persons for administrative jobs should be vested on an independent and neutral Public Service Commission. That is the system in all democratic countries, and following that system the responsibility of selecting the right type of administrators for the central administrative service has been vested on the Union Public Service Commission and for the states, on the respective State Public Service Commissions.

Brief History of Union Public Service Commission of India

The Union Public Service Commission of India was virtually established by the British Government as early as in 1974 during the British rule. In 1924, Lee Commission had recommended in its report for the establishment of an independent and impartial Public Service Commission for India and on the basis of such recommendation the Union Public Service Commission was established in 1926.

Subsequently by the government of India Act 1935 Public Service Commission were established separately for both the central and the state government services. After independence arrangements were made to establish an independent and neutral Union Public Service Commission for the said purpose following the pattern adopted in the Government of India Act 1935. However, while under the Government of India Act 1935 it was called the Federal Public Service Commission, in independent India it was named as the Union Public Service Commission.

Union Public Service Commission in Indian Constitution

According to Act 315 of the constitution of India there shall be a permanent Union Public Service Commission for appointment to the various posts of the central government services. Likewise as Act 318of the constitution of India also stated that the Union Public Service Commission will be constituted with a chairman and a fixed number of members; the number of such members and the terms and conditions of their service are to be determined by the President of India. The President, as such, appoints the Chairman and other members of the commission for a period of six years.

It is interesting to note that according to Act 317 of the constitution of India, the period of service of the chairman and other members of the Union Public Service Commission is not determined by the pleasure of the executive department of the government of India and as such, they cannot be removed from their positions quite easily.

As per Art 317(1) only the President of India can remove these members from their officers under the special change of corruption and dishonest behaviour by a special measure. The system is, when a special charge against any member of the Union Public Service Commission is made before the President of India about corruption and dishonesty the latter directs the Supreme Count of India to make enquiry on it and the Supreme Court after making the inquiry submits its report to him. If the alleged charge is proved against the member or even the chairman of the commission the President can remove him from his office. Art. 317(2)also says that if a member is found insolvent or mentally and physically unfit then also the President can remove him from the post of membership.

The constitution of India has also adopted certain measures to ensure the neutrality and impartiality of the U.P.S.C. The Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission has not been allowed to take any office of profit under the central or any of the state governments after his retirement from service as chairman. Moreover, before the expiry of their term of service the executive cannot remove the Chairman or any of the members of the commission from their service. They can be removed only through the means stipulated in the constitution. Apart from this once these members are appointed the terms and conditions of their services cannot be changed. Art. 322 declares that the salaries and allowances of these members including the chairman will be considered as expenditure charged upon the consolidated fund of India, which means that their salaries and allowances are not subjected to the approval of the Parliament.

Functions of Union Public Service Commission

Art. 320 of the constitution of India have categorically enumerated the functions of the Union Public Service Commi­ssion.

The first function of Union Public Service Commission is to recommend for appointment in administrative services the meritorious and prospective young men and women after selecting them through All India competitive examinations.

Secondly, if two or more state governments so request the U.P.S.C.  to assists them in framing and operating schemes of joint recruitment for any service for which candidates possessing special qualification are required.

Thirdly, it advises the President on

  1. “all matters relating to methods of recruitment to civil services and for civil posts;
  2. the principles to be followed in making appointments to civil services and posts and in making promotions and transfers from the service to another and on the suitability of candidates for such appointments promotions or transfer;
  3. all disciplinary matters affecting a person serving under the Government of India or the Government of a State in a civil capacity, including memorials or petitions relating to such matter;
  4. any claim in respect of a person who is serving or has served under the govt. of India in a civil capacity, that any cost incurred by him in defending, legal proceedings instituted against him in respect of acts done or purporting to be done in the execution of his duty should be paid out of the consolidated fund of India;
  5. any claim for the award of a pension in respect of injuries sustained by a person while serving under the government of India in a civil capacity and any question as to the amount of such award;
  6. any other matter which may be referred to it by the President for advice.”

It is usually obligatory for the Government of India to consult the Union public Service Commission in respect of all the above matters. However, the President has the power to make regulations, specifying the matters in which, either generally or in particular circumstances the commission may not be consulted. Under the Union Public Service Commission (exemption from consultation) regulations framed by the President in 1958, it is not obligatory for the President to consult the U.P.S.C. in the following cases ;

  1. Posts in respect of which the authority of appointment, has specifically been conferred by the constitution in the President,
  2. Chairman of members of any Board, Tribunal Commission, Committee or any other similar authority, created under a statute or under the authority of a resolution of either Houses of the Parliament or by a resolution of the government of India for conducting an enquiry into any matter or advising the government of specified matters.
  3. Heads of diplomatic, consular and other similar Indian Missions in other countries,
  4. Personal staff attached to the holders of the posts mentioned in categories mentioned above,
  5. Posts in the Secretariat of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha,
  6. All technical and administrative posts in or under the Atomic Energy Commission,
  7. Judicial Commissioners and Additional Judicial Commissioners, District Judges and Additional District Judges of the Union Territories and the subordinate Judges and Munsifs in the Union Territories of Manipur, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh,
  8. All class HI and class IV posts,
  9. Posts concerned with the administration of North-East Frontier Agency and
  10. any service or post in respect of which the commission has agreed that it is not necessary for it to be consulted. The temporary and officiating appointments can also be made without consulting the U.P.S.C. provided the incumbent is not likely to hold the post for more than a year. But intimation has to be sent to the commission regarding such appointment as soon as the posts are filled. Similarly there is no need to make any reference to the com­mission regarding the reservation of posts in favour of backward classes, Scheduled Castes, Schedule Tribes.

Powers of Union Public Service Commission(U.P.S.C)

One of the most significant powers of the U.P.S.C. is its advisory power. It can give advises to the President and the governors of any State of the following affairs,

  • First—on all matters related with the appointment of the civil services of the governments,
  • Second—the evaluation of the standard and efficiencies of the candidates for appointment, promotion or transfer in all civil posts.
  • Third—on all matters regarding the discipline and punctuality of the employees of all India Services,
  • Fourth—affairs related with the demands and benefits of employees working under the All India Civil Services and injured while on duty,
  • Fifth—whether the payment or expenditure for any work of an employee of All India Civil Services will be borne by the consolidated fund of India.
  • Sixth— regarding discipline and punctuality in government functions of paying compensation to a government employee if he suffers any problem or financial loss due to the negligence on the part of the government, matters related with the punishment measures of those employees who have violated discipline or of all matters related with the interest of the government employees working under the central government.

However the government is not bound to take advises of the Union Public Service Commission in regard to the issues of making reservation in services for the schedule caste, schedule tribe and other backward communities or for making some special provision and privileges for making such reservations for them under Act 335 under the constitution of India.

Advisory Role of Union Public Service Commission(U.P.S.C)

Thus, from the above analysis it is clear that the powers of the Union Public Service Commission are confined within its advisory activities only. In the famous case of D. Silva vs. the Govt. of India (1962) the Supreme Court of India has also upheld this view.

It is really interesting to note that nowhere in the whole constitution of India anything, has been said by which the advises rendered by the Union Public Service Commission may have a binding effect upon the government at the centre. The constitution of India has made the Public Service Commission a mere advisory institution which is required to give advises to the subject sent to it by the President of India or by the Governors of the States. But to accept or refuse their advises is the absolute discretion of the respective governments. This is because India has adopted a responsible democratic government where in the council of ministers cannot delegate its responsibilities to their employees to any other organization, though at the same time it should not neglect the advises made by a commission consisting of experienced and expert persons. Since the Council of Ministers is responsible to the legislature, the task of up keeping the standard of images and activities of the government servants before the people should be en-shouldered by the ministers themselves and not by any commission whatsoever.

Precautionary Measures in Indian Constitution

In order to prevent the ministers from taking any undue advantages or using the U.P.S.C. for their own personal and party interests, the constitution had taken two precautionary measures.

  • First, the government must consult with the Union Public Service Commission regarding the appointment of its employees and the other matters relating to their interest and
  • Secondly, if the recommendation or advice of the Union Public Service Commission is not accepted the government is to explain the reason of such non-acceptance to the parliament.

Without the recommendation of the Union Public Service Commission the Government of India can appoint temporarily some employees but such employee cannot be appointed for more than a year. If such employee is to be appointed for more than a year the approval of the U.P.S.C. must have to be taken.

Moreover, if the government does not take the recommendation or advice of the U.P.S.C. or refuse or neglect it, the reasons for it are to be reported to the Parliament.

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