S.P.S.C.
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This article is written by Devansh Sharma, 1st year student at Law School, Banaras Hindu University. This article deals with the provisions related to the Union Public Service Commissions and the State Public Service Commission.

Introduction

Our constitution provides for four watchdogs (i.e., the Supreme Court, the Election Commission of India, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, the Union Public Service Commission) that help to keep a check on different functions of the State. Supreme Court keeps a check on the judicial functions of the state. Election Commission of India ensures free and fair elections. The Comptroller and Auditor General keep in check the finances of the country. Similarly, the Union Public Service Commission is a watchdog to ensure fair recruitment on the basis of merit. U.P.S.C., along with the country’s higher judiciary and the Election Commission, 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 known as the State Public Service Commission and the constitution of India gave it a constitutional status as autonomous bodies. Thus, it becomes essential on the part of citizens to know and understand these organizations better. Therefore, in this article, we will be discussing the Union Public Service Commission and the State Public Service Commission in detail.

Constitutional Provisions

Article 315 to 323 of Part XIV of the Indian Constitution deals with provisions relating to the Union Public Service Commission as well as the State Public Service Commission. These Constitutional Provisions include guidelines regarding the appointment, composition, removal, functions, and duties, etc. of the Public Service Commissions. The following table describes the content of the various provisions of the Constitution.

Article

Provisions

Article 315

Provisions for Public Service Commissions for the Union and the States.

Article 316

Provisions regarding appointment and term of office of members.

Article 317

Provisions regarding removal and suspension of a member of a Public Service Commission.

Article 318

Provisions regarding power to make regulations as to conditions of service of members and staff of the Commission.

Article 319

Provisions regarding prohibition as to the holding of offices by members of the Commission on ceasing to be such members.

Article 320

Provisions regarding functions of Public Service Commissions.

Article 321

Provisions regarding power to extend functions of Public Service Commissions.

Article 322

Provisions regarding expenses of Public Service Commissions.

Article 323

Provisions regarding reports of Public Service Commissions.

Composition of U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C.

Let us understand the above provisions and start with discussing the composition of the Union Public Service Commission and State Public Service Commissions.

  • The U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C. both consist of a Chairman and other members.
  • The Commissions consist of 9 to 11 members including the chairman (though the number is not defined anywhere, and it changes from time to time and decided by the president in case of U.P.S.C. and by the Governor in case of S.P.S.C.).
  • The current sanctioned strength of the Commissions is 11 (i.e., one Chairman and ten members).

Appointment and Eligibility of members

Article 316 of the Indian Constitution provides for provisions regarding the appointment of the chairman and the members of the U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C.

  • The Chairman and other members of Union Public Service Commission and State Public Service Commissions are appointed by the President of India and the Governor of the State respectively.
  • Although no specific qualification is mentioned in the Constitution, but it mandates that 50% of the members of U.P.S.C. should be the ones who have held government office for at least 10 years.
  • The President of India and The Governor of State are empowered by the Constitution of India to determine the conditions of service of the Chairman and other members of the Union Public Service Commission and the State Public Service Commission respectively, at the time of their appointment.
  • The person to be appointed as the members of the Union Public Service Commission and State Public Service Commissions should not hold any office of profit under the central or the state government.

Appointment of chairman and acting chairman

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.

The governor can also appoint one of the members of the S.P.S.C. as an acting chairman if any of the following conditions prevail:

  • The office of the chairman of the commission becomes vacant;
  • The chairman of the commission, due to absence or for any other reason, is unable to perform the duties of his office.

The acting chairman will perform the functions of the chairman until the chairman returns to its office.

Tenure of the Members and Chairman

For the Union Public Service Commission, 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 State Public Service Commission, 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, at any time, to the President of India. 

The members of both U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C. can be removed at any time by the president on various grounds.

Expenses 

According to Article 322, the expenses of the Union Public Service Commission and State Public Service Commission, including salaries, allowances, and pensions, payable to any of the members or staff of the Commission, shall be charged on the Consolidated Fund of India and the Consolidated Fund of the State respectively.

Reporting

Article 323 mandates that it will be the duty of the Union Commission to submit to the President an annual report of the work done by the Commission. Whereas the State Public Service Commission will submit its annual report of its performance, to the Governor. Upon receipt of such report, the President shall present a copy, before each House of Parliament and the Governor shall present it to both the house of the legislature (if the legislature is bicameral), together with a memorandum, explaining the reasons as to why the advice of the Commission was not accepted by him.

Structure of the Organisation

The Union Public Service Commission (Members) Regulations, 1969 governs the terms and conditions of service of chairman and members of the Commission.

Secretariat

The functions of the Commission are performed by a Secretariat headed by a Secretary with four Additional Secretaries. These additional secretaries consist of a number of Joint Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries and other supporting staff. For administrative purposes, the secretariat is further divided into several divisions, each undertaking a specific responsibility which are as follows:

  • Administration: The administration administers the Secretariat as well as looks after personal matters of Chairman/Members and other Officers/Staff of the Commission.
  • All India Services: Recruitment to All India Services is done either by direct recruitment, through Civil Services Examination or by promotion from the State Service. The AIS Branch handles the promotions of State Service officers to the IAS, IPS, and IFS. It also handles policy matters relating to All India Services and amendments in the ‘Promotion Regulations’ of respective services.
  • Appointments: They carry out appointments to Central and State services based on promotion and by the means of Deputation and Absorption.
  • Examination: It carries out merit-based selection and recommendation of candidates, through various examinations, to Group A and Group B Services of the Government of India and the respective State.
  • General: The general primarily deals with day-to-day housekeeping works for Commission. It deals with functions like arrangements and facilitation for conduction of Examinations by the U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C., printing Annual Report etc.
  • Recruitment: This branch of the U.P.S.C. and the S.P.S.C., carries out Direct Recruitment (out of the 3 possible mechanisms of ‘direct recruitment’, ‘recruitment by promotion’ and ‘recruitment by transfer and permanent absorption’) by selection to all Group `A’ and certain Group `B’ posts of the services of the Union (including some Union Territories) or the State. These recruitments are done either by selection (interview) or through competitive examination.
  • Services I: Handles disciplinary cases, as required under Article 320(3)(c), received from various Ministries/Departments and State Governments, for the advice of the Commission.
  • Services II: Handles cases other than the ones dealt by ‘Services I’ branch. It also compiles the Annual Report and coordinates visits of foreign delegations, hosting of international events and correspondence with foreign countries concerning Public Service Commissions, including the SAARC Member States.

Powers of U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C.

Main power of Union Public Service Commission and the State Public Service Commission is the advisory power. It is empowered to give advice to the President and the Governors of any State on the following affairs:

  • On all matters related to the appointment of the civil services of the governments.
  • The evaluation of the efficiency and standard of the candidates for appointment, promotion or transfer in all civil posts.
  • On all matters regarding the discipline and punctuality of the employees of the civil services.
  • Matters associated with the demands and benefits of employees working under the Civil Services and employees injured while on duty.
  • If the payment or expenditure for any work of an employee of Civil Services will be charged on the consolidated fund of India or not.
  • Regarding promptness of decision and discipline of action in government functions, of paying compensation to a government employee, if the employee has suffered any problems or financial loss due to negligence on the part of the government.
  • It also has powers to deal with matters related to punishment measures of those employees who have violated discipline or with all matters related to the interest of the government employees working under the Central government and the State government.

Thus, the Constitution of India has simply made the Union Public Service Commission and State Public Service Commission, as advisory institutions which provide advice on the subject sent to it by the President of India or by the Governors of the State respectively. But the acceptance or denial of advice is the absolute discretion of the respective governments.

This is because India has adopted a responsible self-governing government wherein the powers and responsibilities of the council of ministers cannot be delegated to its employees or to any other organization. 

In brief, U.P.S.C. is the central recruitment agency in India and S.P.S.C. is the state recruitment agency in India.

https://lawsikho.com/course/diploma-m-a-institutional-finance-investment-lawsFunctions of U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C.

The duty of the Union Public Service Commission and State Public Service Commission is to conduct examinations for appointment to the services of the Union and the State respectively. Article 320 of the Constitution of India provides for the following functions of the Union Public Service Commission and State Public Service Commission.

  • The first and foremost function of Union Public Service Commission and State Public Service Commission is to appoint in administrative services the meritorious and potential candidates after selecting them through competitive examinations at All India and State level respectively.
  • Secondly for any service for which candidates should possess special qualifications, the function of U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C. is to assist the legislature in framing and operating schemes of joint recruitment.
  • Union Public Service Commission and State Public Service Commission advise the President and the Governor respectively, on every matter relating to methods of recruitment to civil services and for civil posts.
  • U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C. lay down principles to be followed 
    • in making appointments to the posts of civil servants;
    • in making promotions and transfers from one service to another;
    • for checking the suitability of candidates for such appointments promotions or transfers.
  • Another function of U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C. is to look at all disciplinary matters affecting a person serving in a civil capacity under the Government of India or the Government of a State. It may also include memorials or petitions relating to such matter.

Other Functions of U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C.

There are other functions as well to be performed by the U.P.S.C. and the S.P.S.C. These are:

  • To conduct examinations for appointment to the services of the Union and the State and conduct interviews for direct recruitment of Candidates.
  • To advise on the matters that are referred to them and on matters which the President or the Governor may refer to the appropriate commission.
  • Exercise any additional functions bestowed upon the Commission by an Act of Parliament or State legislature regarding the services of the Union or the State and also with respect to the services of any local authority constituted by law.
  • It will be the duty of the Union Public Service Commission to provide assistance if in any case, it is requested by two or more states, to assist them in framing and operating schemes of joint recruitment for any service of the states.
  • It is compulsory for the Government of India and the State legislature to consult the Union Public Service Commission and State Public Service Commission respectively, in respect of all the matters stated above. But the President has the powers to make rules, specifying the general or particular circumstances where the commission may not be consulted. For example, according to the Union Public Service Commission (exemption from consultation) regulations framed by the President in 1958, it is not mandatory for the President to consult the U.P.S.C. in the following cases.
    • Posts in respect of which the authority of appointment, has specifically been conferred by the constitution in the President, 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.
    • Posts concerned with the administration of North-East Frontier Agency and 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.

Independence of U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C.

The Constitution mandates for the following provisions to safeguard and ensure the independent and impartial functioning of the Union Public Service Commission and State Public Service Commission:

  • The chairman or a member of the U.P.S.C. or S.P.S.C. can be removed from office by the President only in the manner and on the grounds mentioned in the Constitution. Thus, they enjoy the security of tenure.
  • Article 318 mandates that the conditions of service of the chairman or the members of U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C. are determined by the President and the Governor respectively. But these conditions of service cannot be varied to their disadvantage after their appointment.
  • The entire expenses including the salaries, allowances, and pensions of the Chairman and members of the U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C. are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India and the Consolidated Fund of State respectively and are not subject to the vote of Parliament in case of U.P.S.C. or the legislative assembly of the state in case of S.P.S.C.
  • Article 319 states that the chairman of the U.P.S.C. on ceasing to hold office is not eligible for further employment in the Government of India or any state. Whereas the chairman of S.P.S.C. can be made the chairman of either U.P.S.C. or any other S.P.S.C. 
  • Article 319 also states that a member of the U.P.S.C. is eligible for appointment as the Chairman of U.P.S.C. or a State Public Service Commission but not for any other employment in the Government of India or any state. Whereas a member of S.P.S.C. is eligible to be appointed as the Chairman or a member of the U.P.S.C. or as the chairman of the same S.P.S.C. or member or chairman of any other S.P.S.C. 
  • The chairman or a member of U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C. is not eligible for reappointment to that office for a second term.

Removal of members 

Article 317 says that the members of both public service commission 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(insolvent).
  • The member of the commission engages in any paid employment outside the official duties.
  • The member of the commission 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.

The President can suspend the members of the Union Public Service Commission during the period when the matter is being inquired by the Supreme Court. Whereas in the case of the State Public Service Commission, this power to suspend the member is vested in the Governor of the State. 

Difference between U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C.

Though many provisions regarding powers and functions of U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C. overlap, there are still certain differences that distinguish both of them. The following table discusses the difference between U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C.

Provisions

U.P.S.C.

S.P.S.C.

No. of members

Decided by the President of India.

Decided by the Governor of State.

Appointment of chairman and members

Appointed by the President.

Appointed by the Governor.

Conditions of Service

Decided by the President of India.

Decided by the Governor of State.

Age of retirement

Until 65 years of age.

Until 62 years of age.

Appointment of Acting Chairman

Appointed by the President.

Appointed by the Governor.

Suspension for misbehaviour

Suspended by the President.

Suspended by the Governor.

Expenses

Charged on Consolidated Fund of India.

Charged on the Consolidated Fund of State.

Further employment of Chairman

No further employment.

Chairman or member of U.P.S.C or Chairman of any other S.P.S.C.

Further employment of 

Members

Chairman of U.P.S.C. or any S.P.S.C.

Chairman or member of U.P.S.C. or as chairman of the same S.P.S.C. or member or Chairman of any other S.P.S.C. 

Conducting the Examination

All India Examinations and National level examinations.

State-level Recruitment examinations.

Submission of report

Submitted to the President.

Submitted to the Governor.

Providing advice

Advises the President and the central government.

Advises the Governor and the State legislature.

Concept of J.S.P.S.C.

The abbreviation J.S.P.S.C. stands for Joint State Public Service Commission. The Government of India Act, 1935 for the first time provided for the 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. Constitution of India has made provisions regarding the establishment of the Joint State Public Service Commission for two or more states. For example, Haryana had a J.S.P.S.C for a short period at the time of bifurcation of Punjab and Haryana. While the U.P.S.C. and the S.P.S.C. are directly created by the Constitution, J.S.P.S.C. is created by the act of parliament at the request of the concerned state legislatures, and thus it is a Statutory body. The following are the features of a J.S.P.S.C.:

  • Chairman and member of J.S.P.S.C. are appointed by the President. 
  • The tenure of the members of J.S.P.S.C. is of six-year or until they attain an age of 62 years, whichever is earlier. 
  • They can be removed or suspended by President and they can directly submit their resignation to the president. 
  • The terms and conditions of their office are determined by the President.
  • The number of members in the Commission is decided by the President.
  • J.S.P.S.C. presents its annual performance report to each of the concerned state governors, who place the report further before their respective state legislatures.
  • U.P.S.C. can also serve the needs of a state on the request of the state governors and with the approval of the President.

Conclusion

The Public Service Commissions form a basic structure that ensures and protects the meritorious nature of the Indian civil services. However, there could be some changes and reforms to modify these commissions to work more efficiently. Some reforms that can be brought about are: 

  • Commission to serve as a think-tank on personnel issues: The commissions should go beyond the role of recruiting candidates in answering the issues relating to civil services and their role in a rapidly changing society.
  • Involvement of Research Institutes and Universities in the functioning of U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C.: U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C. should associate with advanced institutions to conduct specially designed courses for administration and to keep the services in touch with new developments in technology and knowledge.
  • The need for Decentralisation: The U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C. are often burdened with a huge workload and they also receive and manage applications that are million in numbers. Such a huge workload often leads to depreciating the efficiency of the organisation. Hence, it becomes utmost necessary to decentralize the functions of these commissions, so as to make them work at a greater pace.
  • Keep in sync with changing times: U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C. so far have worked with remarkable competence, impartiality and integrity. However, a new world based on openness, accountability and delivery has emerged and U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C. need to be in sync with these changes.

It is undoubted that our Public Service Commissions have performed their role with utmost efficiency and will continue to perform them at a much higher level of proficiency if such reforms are introduced. 


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1 COMMENT

  1. Though there were many articles related to other subjects, there were very few regarding constitutional provisions. You have explained in a very clear format. But can you help me with tips to remember the articles, as I am finding this part a bit difficult. Hope you help me out soon.

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