Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is the central recruiting agency in India. Articles 315 to 323 in Part-XIV of the Constitution contain elaborate provisions regarding the composition, appointment and removal of members along with the independence, powers and functions of the UPSC.
The UPSC consists of a chairman and other members appointed by the president of India. The Constitution, without specifying the strength of the Commission has left the matter to the discretion of the president, who determines its composition. Usually, the Commission consists of nine to eleven members including the chairman. Further, no qualifications are prescribed for the Commission’s membership except that one-half of the members of the Commission should be such persons who have held office for at least ten years either under the Government of India or under the government of a state.The Constitution also authorities the president to determine the conditions of service of the chairman and other members of the Commission.
The chairman and members of the Commission hold office for a term of six years or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. However, they can relinquish their offices at any time by addressing their resignation to the president. They can also be removed before the expiry of their term by the president in the manner as provided in the Constitution.
The President can remove the chairman or any other member of UPSC from the office under the following circumstances:
(a) If he is adjudged an insolvent (that is, has gone bankrupt);
(b) If he engages, during his term of office, in any paid employment outside the duties of his office; OR
(c) If he is, in the opinion of the president, unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body.
In addition to these, the president can also remove the chairman or any other member of UPSC for misbehavior. However, in this case, the president has to refer the matter to the Supreme Court for an enquiry. If the Supreme Court, after the inquiry, upholds the cause of removal and advises so, the president can remove the chairman or a member. Under the provisions of the Constitution, the advise tendered by the Supreme Court in this regard is binding on the president. During the course of enquiry by the Supreme Court, the president can suspend the chairman or the member of UPSC.
(a) The chairman or a member of the UPSC can be removed from office by the president only in the manner and on the grounds mentioned in the Constitution. Therefore, they enjoy security of tenure.
(b) The conditions of service of the chairman or a member, though determined by the president, cannot be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.
(c) The entire expenses including the salaries, allowances and pensions of the chairman and members of the UPSC are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India. Thus, they are not subject to vote of Parliament.
(d) The chairman of UPSC (on ceasing to hold office) is not eligible for further employment in the Government of India or a state.
(e) A member of UPSC (on ceasing to hold office) 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.
(f) The chairman or a member of UPSC is (after having completed his first term) not eligible for reappointment to that office (i.e.,not eligible for second term).
(a) It conducts examinations for appointments to the all-India services, Central services and public services of the centrally administered territories.
(b) It assists the states (if requested by two or more states to do so) in framing and operating schemes of joint recruitment for any services for which candidates possessing special qualifications are required.
(c) It serves all or any of the needs of a state on the request of the state governor and with the approval of the president of India.
(d) UPSC is consulted by the government on matters relating to personnel management. The Supreme Court has held that if the government fails to consult UPSC in the related matters, the aggrieved public servant has no remedy in a court. Similarly, the court held that a selection by the UPSC does not confer any right to the post upon the candidate.
(e) The UPSC presents, annually, to the president a report on its performance. The President places this report before both the Houses of Parliament.
The Constitution visualizes the UPSC to be the ‘watch-dog of merit system’ in India. It is concerned with the recruitment to the all-India services and Central services–group A and group B and advises the government, when consulted, on promotion and disciplinary matters.
The UPSC is not consulted on the following matters:
(a) While making reservations of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens.
(b) While taking into consideration the claims of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in making appointments to services and posts.
(c) 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.
(d) 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 role of UPSC is not only limited, but also recommendations made by it are only of advisory nature and hence, not binding on the government. It is up to the Union government to accept or reject that advise. The emergence of Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in 1964 affected the role of UPSC in disciplinary matters. However, the UPSC, being an independent constitutional body, has an edge over the CVC, which is created by an executive resolution of the Government of India and conferred a statutory status in October 2003.
Articles related to UPSC:
- 318 – Power to make regulations as to conditions of service of members and staff of the Commission
- 319 – Prohibition as to the holding of office by members of commission on ceasing to be such members
- 320 – Functions of Public Service Commissions
- 321 – Power to extend functions of Public Service Commissions
- 322 – Expenses of Public Service Commissions
- 323 – Reports of Public Service Commissions