Ever since the creation of Indian Civil Service in the days of the East India Company, there has always existed in India an all-India cadre of service. Gradually, the all-India cadres were introduced almost in all departments of the Central Government.
The Charter Act of 1853 gave India a highly efficient Civil Service by establishing the ‘open competition’ system of recruitment. Based on Macaulay's report in 1854, the British Civil Service Commission was established in 1855.
Although the British Government had laid down the principle of equality in all services in India as early as 1833, yet up to 1870 there was only one Indian in the Covenanted Civil Service. Indians were excluded from these services because first, competitions were held in England, secondly, age limit was very low and thirdly, standard of the examination was very high.
The Act of 1870 provided for the appointment of Indians to the Covenanted posts by nomination according to rules which empowered the Governor-General-inCouncil to appoint natives “of good family and social standing” to posts of Covenanted Civil Service to the extent of one-sixth of the appointments made by the Secretary of State for India.
Aitchison Commission in 1886 recommended raising of age Iimit to 23 years. It was, however, against the holding of simultaneous examination in England and India. In 1893 the House of Commons recommended holding the examinations simultaneously both in India and England.
In 1912, Islington Commission was appointed. It did not submit its report due to certain developments in international politics. In 1918, Montford Report recommended holding of simultaneous examinations in India and England and recruitment of 33% of superior posts in the Indian Civil Service were to be recruited in India with a progressive increase in the percentage. As reported by the Lee Commission in 1924, there were eight all-India services with an over all strength of 4278.
The Royal Commission on the Superior Civil Services in India of which Lord Lee was the Chairman, in its report, recommended the abolition of certain all-India services relating to ‘transferred’ subjects and increasing Indianisation of these services.
The Joint Select Committee of the British Parliament in 1935 recommended the continuance of the Indian Civil Service (I.C.S), the India Police Service (I.P.S) and the Indian Medical Service (Civil) (I.M.S). The Government of India Act, 1935 excluded all posts, except I.C.S, I.P.S. and I.M.S from the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State for India.
At the time of transfer of power in 1947, recruitment was open only to the I.C.S and the I.P.S. The Indian Civil Service came to be known as the ‘steel frame’ of the British Government in India.
During the British regime the principle of communal representation was extended to the Civil Service as well and posts were reserved in a certain proportion for minority communities.
The Constitution, while guaranteeing ‘equality of opportunity’ in matters of public employment (Art. 16.1) allows the State to reserve in the services under it appointments or posts in favour of any ‘backward class of citizens’(Art. 16.4). According to Ambedkar the term ‘backward’ means Scheduled Castes (untouchables) and Scheduled Tribes (primitive or aboriginal tribes).
At present the reservation is 15 per cent for Scheduled castes and 7.5 per cent for Scheduled Tribes. In addition to that, 27 per cent posts have recently been reserved for Other Backward Classes.The recruitment to the administrative and higher services in India is on the basis of a competitive examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission.
Till 1978, there used to be a single competitive examination for the higher service and there was no screening test. Nearly 40,000 candidates took the main test for a vacancy of 400 posts. The Kothari Committee in 1976 recommended a screening preliminary examination and a post-training test besides the main civil services examination.
The Civil Services in India have been classified into Services, Classes and Grades. The Services are:
All these services are divided into four classes, i.e. Class I, II, III and IV. Each class has a number of grades. The recommendation of the Third Central Pay Commission (1973) to classify the civil posts under the Central Government in four groups i.e., A,B,C and D instead of classes i.e., I, II, III and IV has been accepted.