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The makers of the Constitution realised that detailed provisions relating to every matter concerning the Public Services was not practiciable and therefore left the recruitment and conditions of service of the public servants of the Union and of the State to be regulated by Acts of the appropriate Legislatures.
 Pending such legislation, however, these matters were to be regulated by Rules made by the president or by the Governor in connection with the services under the Union and the States respectively (Art. 309). The two matters which are substantively dealt with by our Constitution are

  1. tenure of office of the public servants and disciplinary action against them; and
  2. the constitution and function of the Public Service Commissions.


Type of Services

The constitution provides for three major categories of civil services in the country :

  1. All India Services : These are common to be Centre and the States and includes the Indian Administrative Services (IAS), Indian Police Services (IPS) and Indian Forest Service. The Rajya Sabha can create a new all India Service by passing a resolution to the effect with a two thirds majority.
  2. Central Services : These are concerned with the administration of subjects in the Union List and are categorised as Group A,B,C and D services. There are 50 Central civil services in group A including Indian Foreign Service, Indian Audit and Accounts Services, Indian Defence Service, Indian Postal Service, Indian Economic Services, etc. UPSC makes recruitment to group A and B services while recruitment to group C is made by the staff selection commission.
  3. State Services : These include the services and posts which are concerned with the administration of State subjects, health, planning, police etc. State services have been classified into class I, II, III & IV consists of peons, messengers etc.

Union and state public service commissions 

Art. 315 lays down that there shall be a Public Service Commission for the Union, and a Public Service Commission for each state or a joint public Service Commission for a group of states. Setting up a joint public service commission is subject to the state legislatures concerned passing a resolution to that effect and parliament approving that resolution. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) also may, with the approval of the President, agree to serve the needs of a state, if so requested by the Governor of the state.

The number of members of the Commission and their conditions of service is determined :

  1. by the President in the case of the Union or a Joint Commission, and
  2. by the Governor of the State in the case of a State Commission.

Appointment and term of office

The chairman and members of the Union or a Joint Commission are appointed by the President, and those of a State Commission by the Governor. Half of the members of a commission should be persons who have held office under the Government of India or a state for at least ten years (Art. 316).

The members hold office for six years. A member of the UPSC retires at the age of 65 years, and a member of a state or joint PSC at 62. But the office of a member may be terminated earlier also. A member may resign, in writing addressed to the President (for UPSC or Joint PSC) or the Governor (for State PSC) .

A member of the (UPSC) can be removed from office only by an order of the President on the ground of misbehaviour. The Constitution prescribes a procedure to prove such misbehaviour. According to this, the matter will be referred to the Supreme Court by the President and the court will conduct an enquiry in accordance with the procedure prescribed under Art. 145 of the Constitution and will submit a report to the President. Pending the enquiry by the Supreme Court the President may suspend the Member concerned.

The President is empowered to remove by an order a Member of the commission also on the following grounds:

  1. if he is adjudged an insolvent;
  2. if he engages himself dur ing his term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office.
  3. if he is, in opinion of the President, unfit to continue in office for reason of infirmity of mind or body; and
  4. if he becomes in any way concerned in any of the Government of India or a State Government or in any way participate in its profits or benefits except as an ordinary member of an incorporated company.

All these provisions are intended to make the commission an independent and impartial body.

Independence of PSC

Several provisions have been made by the Constitution to safeguard the independence of the PSC from the executive.

  1. The chairman or a member of a commission can be removed from office only in the manner and for the grounds specified to the Constitution.
  2. Though the conditions of service of a member of the PSC is determined by the President for UPSC or a joint commission) and by the Governor (for State PSC), these are not to be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment (Art. 318).
  3. The expen ses of t he Commi ssion are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India or of the state (Art. 322).
  4. Cer tain disabilities are imposed upon t he chairman and members of the commission with respect to future employment under Government (Art. 319) : (a) The chairman of UPSC is ineligible for further employment either under the Union or any state government; (b) The chairman of a state PSC is eligible for appointment in UPSC or chairman of any other state PSC; (c) A member of UPSC (but not the chairman) is eligible for appointment as the chairman of UPSC/State PSC; (d) A member of a State PSC (but not the chairman) is eligible for appointment in UPSC or as the chairman of that or any other State PSC.

Safeguards for civil servants

Though all government servants except certain high officials (the Supreme Court Judges, the Auditor General, the High Court Judges and the Chief Election Commissioner who cannot be removed from their offices except in manner laid down in Art. 124, 148, 218, 324, respectively and discussed in respective chapters) hold office during the pleasure of the President or the Governor (as the case may be), two procedural safeguards are provided for the security of tenure of ‘civil’ servants as distinguished from military personnel. They are :

  1. A civil servant shall not be dismissed or removed by any authority subordinate to that by which he was appointed Art. 311.
  2. No dismissal, removal or reduction in rank shall be ordered against a civil servant unless he has been given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in respect of the charges brought against him.

Before proceeding against a civil servant the authority must :

  1. frame specific charges with full par ticularity,
  2. intimate those charges to the Government servant concerned,
  3. give him an oppor tunity to answer those charges;
  4. after considering his answers, take its decision, and
  5. the rules of natural justice should be observed in coming to the finding against the accused.

While a person “dismissed” is ineligible for reemployment under the Government, no such disqualification attaches to a person ‘removed’. But two elements are common to ‘dismissed’ and ‘removal’:

  1. Both the penalties are awarded on the ground that the conduct of the Government servant is blameworthy or deficient in some respect.
  2. Both entail penal consequences, such as the forfeiture of the right to salary, allowances or pension already acquired, for past services.

Where no such penal consequence is involved, it would not constitute ‘dismissal’ or ‘removal’ e.g.,  where a Government servant is ‘compulsorily’ retired without any further penal consequence attached to such order.

No inquiry need be held and no opportunity need be given in three classes of cases :

  1. Where a person is dismissed or removed or reduced in rank on the ground of conduct which has led to his conviction on a criminal charge;
  2. Where an authority empowered to dismiss or remove a person or to reduce him in rank is satisfied that for some reason, to be recorded by that authority in writing, it is not reasonably practicable to hold such inquiry; or
  3. Where the President or Governor, as the case may be, is satisfied that in the interest of the security of the state it is not expedient to hold such inquiry. (Art. 311). 

Functions of PSC 

Under Article 320, the Commissions have the following functions :

  1. To conduct examinations for appointment to the services of the union or the State;
  2. To advise the Union or state government;
  3. Exercise such additional functions as may be provided for by any act of Parliament/state legislature.
  4. Present annually to the President/Governor a report on the work done by the Commission.
  5. The UPSC, if requested by two or more states, must assist those states in framing and operating schemes of joint recruitment for any services for which candidates pos-sessing special qualifications are required.
  6. UPSC, if requested so to do by the Governor of a state, may with the approval of the President, agree to serve all or any of the needs of the state.

Consultant to President/Governor 

The President/Governor is statutorily equired to consult the PSC :

  1. On all matters relating to methods of recruitment of civil services and civil posts.
  2. On the principles to be followed in making appointments to civil services and posts and in making promotion and transfers from one service to another and on the suitability of candidates for such appointments, promotions or transfers.
  3. On all disciplinary matters affecting a person servicing under the government of India/ state government in a civil capacity.
  4. On any claim by such a person for the cost incurred in defending legal proceedings instituted against him in respect of act done or purporting to be done in the execution of his duty.
  5. On any claim for compensation in respect of injuries sustained by a person while serving the government. The PSC’s function here is purely advisory. The Constitution has no provision to make it obligatory upon the government to this advice. But if the government chooses to disregard this advice it has to explain its action to Parliament/state legislature.

Report of PSC 

The UPSC has to present to the president every year a report on the work it has done. The President must have this report laid before each House of parliament, together with a memorandum explaining where the advice of the commission was not accepted and the reason for such non-acceptance (Art. 323).

A state PSC has to submit its report to the Governor. The legislature concerned here is the state legislature.

Roles of the political leadership and the permanent civil services related  in the governance

The term ‘government’ properly applies to Ministers, while the role of permanent civil services is to administer according to the direction of the government—hence they represent the ‘administration’. Ministers are public servants whereas civil servants are government servants.

Political leadership has to formulate executive policies and civil servants must advise the Ministers properly in the formulation of policies and in making decisions.
 Final decision is that of the Minister and the civil servant has to accept the decision and try to implement it honestly. Ministers have the right to exercise supervision and vigilance on the work of the civil servants. Bureaucracy provides continuity to administration when there is change of political masters. Civil servants should act impartially and within the framework of laws, rules and regulations without being influenced by political or extraneous considerations.

In order that the functions of the civil services are appreciated better there may be periodical seminars for civil servants to educate them on the role of the bureaucracy in a developing country like India; education of Ministers and legislators on the relative positions and roles of political leadership and the permanent civil services; informal education of the people through the media, explaining to them the rights of the people, duties of civil servants as well as their problems and difficulties.

There should no political interference in dayto-day administrative work, and no political victimisation of civil servants. Corruption among civil servants should be curbed.

Establishment of strong organisations of different civil services to discuss their problems, expose civil servants carrying favour with politicians and take up the cause of victimised honest and efficient civil servants; setting objective standards for evaluation of the performance of civil servants—all these will help.

Bureaucracy in the context of developmental planning

It is often said and rightly that the bureaucracy, the steel frame of India, held the country together after freedom in 1947.

The disorder that generally envelops any newly independent country was conspicuous by its absence in India because of the resilience of the bureaucracy. In fat the bureaucracy has done India proud in the manner in which it has discharged its functions.

Since the state plays a major role in the transformation of society, this situation has brought the political leadership into a face to face relationship with the bureaucracy.

This relationship has generated tension and conflict and is the direct cause of deteriorating standards of bureaucratic performance. 

This is so because politicians do not worry about norms of legality and sanctity of procedures and rules.

As a result politicians are able to establish their pre-eminent position over functioning bureaucrats because of the patronage of promotions and transfers.

The word “committed” has developed a new connotation for the bureaucrat ever since the period of the emergency when the bureaucrat had to completely identify himself with the implementation of certain programmes like family planning.

There is another aspect to be considered. The bureaucracy is a powerful social group and bureaucrats have been known to make use of politicians to further their (bureaucrats) own interests.

Some of them have been able to get prized jobs and  assignments. There is also a quid pro quo between public servants and businessmen.
 These linkages leave their mark on the bureaucracy for better or for worse.

Controversy regarding committed bureaucracy

The talk of a ‘committed’ civil service has grown out of the feeling of dissatisfaction over the slow pace of India’s progress towards the professed goal of socialism. India’s civil service is being accused of acting as ‘a stumbling block’ to the implementation of the governments progressive policies.

However, this view seems to grow from a misunderstanding of the role of the bureaucracy in a parliamentary democracy. It is in one-party states like the Soviet Union that civil servants are ‘committed’ in the sense of actively and openly sharing the ideology of the ruling party.

In a parliamentary democracy like India with a number of political parties with different ideologies, where party complexion of the government is expected to change from time to time, it is not possible or desirable for the civil service to accept a ‘commitment’ to any particular party and its ideology. Basic to par liamentary democracy is the political neutrality of the civil services.

Civil servants should not have any ideological commitment in the discharge of their official duties.

They must implement honestly, diligently and expeditiously the programme of the government of the day.

However, civil servants should be committed to ‘national objectives’ as they are defined in the Directive Principles of State Policy laid down in the Constitution.

There should be professional commitment. If civil servants are sufficiently in this sense of the term, there is something wrong in existing modes of evaluating their work, the outmoded procedures, and the criteria for promotion.

Basic reform in these aspects will ensure the country a more efficient and dedicated bureaucracy.

The need is to make civil servants committed to being honest, efficient, public-spirited and more achievement oriented without being submitted to ‘politicisation’.

Is a strong bureaucracy a threat to democracy? Suggest a few safeguards against bureaucratic dominance.

In view of the growing powers of bureaucracy, some scholars have expressed the fear that it poses a serious threat to the existence of democracy. Lord Hewart has argued that the executive, including the civil service, has acquired powers which rightfully belong to the legislature and the judiciary, and estab-lished a new form of despotism.

This view is, however, not correct. While it is true that the powers of the civil servants have increased enormously, it would be certainly an exaggeration to say that this poses a threat to the process of democracy, which works under numerous internal checks and external controls.

Thus, its authority is controlled by written rules, regulations and rigid procedures.

It is also restrained by the judiciary which can annul their decisions, if they contravene any provision of law. The fact that members of civil services come from a variety of backgrounds act as an in-built check on the despotism of bureaucracy.

The safeguards against bureaucratic dominance are outlined below:  It should be representative in its composition,of various social and economic classes in the community.  It should be more democratic in the sense thatbureaucrats should compete openly with other bureaucrats for the exercise of power.  There should be personal responsibility ratherthan anonymity, of the bureaucrat.  

Besides setting up advisory bodies, the civilservices must try to attain an effective and continuous system of communication between the governors and the governed.

Exceptions to the Rule of Law

  • The President or Governor is not answerable to any court for the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of his office or for any act done or purporting to be done by him in the exercise and performance of these powers and duties.
  • No criminal proceedings can be instituted against the President or Governor in any court during his term of office. ­
  • No process for arrest or imprisonment of the President or Governor of a State can be issued by any court during his term of office. ­ 
  • No civil proceedings in which relief is claimed against the President or Governor can be instituted during the President’s or Governor’s terms of office in any court in respect of any act done or purporting to be done by him  in his personal capacity. ­ 
  • Foreign sovereigns are exempted from the jurisdiction of courts.
  • Ambassadors representing foreign governments are entitled to immunities and are not subject to the law of the land. 
  • Alien enemies can be tried for acts of war only under martial law. 


The document Public Service Commissions - Indian Polity | Indian Polity for UPSC CSE is a part of the UPSC Course Indian Polity for UPSC CSE.
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FAQs on Public Service Commissions - Indian Polity - Indian Polity for UPSC CSE

1. What is the role of Public Service Commissions in Indian Polity?
Ans. Public Service Commissions in Indian Polity play a crucial role in the recruitment and selection of candidates for various government positions. They ensure that appointments are made based on merit, transparency, and fairness, thus upholding the principles of public administration.
2. How many Public Service Commissions are there in India?
Ans. In India, there are currently 28 Public Service Commissions at the state and union territory levels. Each state and union territory has its own Public Service Commission responsible for conducting examinations and making recommendations for appointments to various posts.
3. What are the eligibility criteria to apply for exams conducted by Public Service Commissions?
Ans. The eligibility criteria for exams conducted by Public Service Commissions vary depending on the specific exam and the post for which the recruitment is being conducted. Generally, candidates must possess a bachelor's degree in any discipline from a recognized university. Additional criteria such as age limits, physical standards, and specific educational qualifications may also apply, as mentioned in the respective recruitment notifications.
4. How can I prepare for Public Service Commission exams?
Ans. To prepare for Public Service Commission exams, candidates should first familiarize themselves with the syllabus and exam pattern of the specific exam they are appearing for. They should gather relevant study materials, including textbooks, previous years' question papers, and reference books. Creating a study plan, practicing mock tests, and solving sample papers can also help in exam preparation. Additionally, joining coaching institutes or online courses can provide guidance and valuable insights.
5. What are the important qualities and skills required to clear Public Service Commission exams?
Ans. Clearing Public Service Commission exams requires a combination of knowledge, skills, and qualities. Candidates should have a strong understanding of the subjects covered in the syllabus and should be able to analyze and comprehend complex information. Good communication skills, both written and verbal, are essential for expressing ideas clearly in the written exams and interviews. Time management, problem-solving abilities, and a positive attitude towards continuous learning are also important qualities that can contribute to success in these exams.
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