Union Public Service Commission
Under Article 315 of the Constitutions, there is provision for a Public Service Commission for the Union, and a Public Service Commission for each state. A joint public service commission for two or more states can be setup provided the concerned states so desire. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) consists of a Chairman and such other members as the President may determine (Article 318). The President appoints the members of the UPSC including the Chairman, but nearly one-half of the commissionï¿½s members must have held office (under the Union or the State government) for at least ten years (Article 316). The UPSC members hold office for a period of six years or attain the age of 65, which-so-ever is earlier.
Article 317 says that the Chairman or any other member of the UPSC can be removed and suspended by the order of the President on grounds of misbehavior after the Supreme Court, in an enquiry, submits a report. This article also says that if a member is found insolvent or becomes unfit by reason of infirmity of mind or body, he may resign himself. The Constitution has adopted certain measures to ensure impartiality of the commission. The members of the commission do not accept any office of profit and there are restrictions after their retirement. Their service conditions are determined by the President.
The powers and functions of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) may be explained as follows:
- There are the regulatory functions of the UPSC: (a) The UPSC advices the government on matters relating to (i) methods of recruitment and (ii) the principles to be followed in making appointments, promotions and 124?Indian Polity and Governance transfers; (b) advises the government on all matters relating to the methods of recruitment to civil services, promotions and transfers.
- There are (under Article 320)some specific constitutional duties of the UPSC: these are: (a) conducting examinations for appointments to the services of the Union; (b) conducting written examinations for different categories of posts annually, besides the holding of interviews for the selection of candidates for specialized and other categories of positions. However, the Commissionï¿½s jurisdiction is restricted to the appointment of only officers level who constitute about 1.9ft of the total employees of the Union Government; (c) presenting an annual report of the work done by the Commission to the President (Article 323) which the President places before both Houses of the Parliament with a memorandum explaining the cases, if any, where the advice of the Commission has not been accepted, including reasons for such non-acceptance.
- There are the quasi-judicial jurisdictions of the UPSC which are restricted to advising the government on disciplinary actions taken against recruited employees. The government consults the Commission on the following matters: (i) All disciplinary actions affecting government employees like censure, withholding of increments or promotion, reduction to a lower grade, compulsory retirement, removal or dismissal from service, etc. (ii) Claims for reimbursement for costs incurred by an employee in legal proceedings instituted against him in respect of acts done in the execution of his duty. (iii) Claims for the award of pension in respect of injuries sustained by an employee and any question as to the amount of any such reward (Article 320 (3)(C)).
- Article 321 of the Constitution says that the Parliament through legislations can confer additional functions on the UPSC pertaining to the services of the Union or the States. Under Articles 318 and 320 of the Constitution, the Union Government, through certain regulations and orders, can entrust certain functions to the Commission. It may, thus, be concluded that the powers of the Union Public Service Commission are confined within its advisory activities only. In the famous case of D. Silva v the Govt. of India (1962) the Supreme Court of India has also held: ï¿½It is 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 center.
The Constitution of India has made the Public Service Commission a mere advisory institution which is required to give advises on the subjects 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 wherein the Council of Ministers cannot delegate its responsibilities to their employees or 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 shouldered by the ministers themselves and not by any commission whatsoever.ï¿½
Written by princy