The Union Public Service Commission – Its Functions and Composition

For the purpose of the higher level civil services of the Union Government, the Constitution provides for the setting up of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

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.


Composition of Union Public Service Commission—

The UPSC consists of a chairman and other members appointed by the president of India.

The number of members of the Commission and the conditions of their service are left to be determined by the President, which means the government.

The Constitution provides that at least half the members have to be persons who have served for at least ten years under the Government of India or a State Government.

The Chairman and members of Union Public Service Commission shall hold office for a term of six years from the date on which he enters upon his office or until he attains the age of sixty-five years, whichever is earlier.

The Chairman is ineligible for any future employment under the government, but other members are entitled to accept the chairmanship of the UPSC or of a State Public Service Commission.

The conditions of service of members cannot be changed to their disadvantage after appointment.

Their salaries, allowances, etc. are not submitted to the vote of Parliament as they are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.

It is also provided that the chairman or a member of the Commission can be removed from office by the President on the ground of misbehaviour. It is only after an inquiry by Supreme Court, on a reference being made to it by the President. Pending the inquiry by the Court, the President may suspend the member concerned.

A member including the chairman would be deemed guilty of misbehaviour if he becomes interested in any monetary benefit in the discharge of duties as a member.


Removal and suspension of a member of a Public Service Commission—

The Chairman or any other member of Union Public Service Commission shall only be removed from his office by order of the President on the ground of misbehaviour after the Supreme Court, on reference being made to it by the President, has, on inquiry held in accordance with the procedure prescribed in that behalf under article 145, reported that the Chairman or such other member, as the case may be, ought on any such ground to be removed.

It is also provided that the President may remove the chairman or any other member from office, on the ground of insolvency, infirmity of mind or body, or if he is engaged during the term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office.


Functions of Union Public Service Commission—

The functions of the UPSC as described in the Constitution are—

[1] To advise the government on all matters relating to the methods of recruitment and norms to be followed in making appointments to civil services either directly or by promotion.

[2] To advise on the suitability of candidates for appointment, promotion and transfer.

[3] To conduct examinations for appointment to All India services.

[4] To advise on disciplinary matters affecting government servants.

[5] To advise on claims of legal proceedings instituted against a government servant and on the claims in respect of injuries sustained by a government servant while on duty.

[6] To advise on any other matter specifically referred by the President.

There is also a provision for extending the functions of the Commission by Parliament not only in respect of government services but also in respect of services under local authorities, corporations or other public institutions.

The jurisdiction of the Commission can be reduced by taking away some posts from its purview.

For example, the Commission is not consulted in regard to selections for the following appointments—

[1] membership or chairmanship of tribunals or commissions

[2] posts of high diplomatic nature

[3] Group C and Group D employees who constitute nearly 90% of the total number of the Central Government employees.

The Commission is also consulted in relation to an order of the President on an appeal against any of the above penalties made by a subordinate authority after consideration of any petition or memorandum or otherwise.

The Commission also tenders advice to government on methods of recruitment, and the principle to be followed in making appointments, promotions and transfers from one service to another and the suitability of candidates for such appointments, promotions or transfers.

It is the duty of the Commission to present annually to the President a report as to the work done by the Commission.

The report along with the memorandum explaining the action taken by the government on the recommendations of the Commission is placed before the Parliament.

Government, thus, becomes responsible to explain the reasons in case it has not accepted the recommendations of the commission.


Independence of Union Public Service Commission—

The following constitutional provisions are intended to make Union Public Service Commission independent of any external influence—

[1] Members are appointed for a fixed tenure of six years or until the attainment of sixty five years of age.

[2] The conditions of service of a member cannot be changed to his/her disadvantage during his/her tenure of office.

[3] The removal of a member can take place by an order of the President on certain specific grounds in consultation of the Supreme Court.

[4] The expenses of the commission are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.

[5] All regulations to be issued by the government excluding any matter from the purview of the commission will have to be laid before the Parliament.

[6] Further employment of any member is severely restricted.