The Public Service Commissions of our country play a crucial role in the advancement of the central and state machinery by employing distinct enrolment patterns so as to determine worthy administrators, who can implement the process of tangible development. As the world’s largest democracy, India will have to adhere to the appropriate standards which will make it an… Read More »

The Public Service Commissions of our country play a crucial role in the advancement of the central and state machinery by employing distinct enrolment patterns so as to determine worthy administrators, who can implement the process of tangible development. As the world’s largest democracy, India will have to adhere to the appropriate standards which will make it an efficient democratic country and for the proper operations of such a nation, it becomes very necessary to have unbiased...

The Public Service Commissions of our country play a crucial role in the advancement of the central and state machinery by employing distinct enrolment patterns so as to determine worthy administrators, who can implement the process of tangible development.

As the world’s largest democracy, India will have to adhere to the appropriate standards which will make it an efficient democratic country and for the proper operations of such a nation, it becomes very necessary to have unbiased civil service, which is not suppressed by the government.

The enrolment of the competent persons in civil services is the responsibility of the Public service commission, which is recognized by the Constitution of India under Articles 315-323.

There are three types of PSCs Union Public Service Commission, State Public Service Commission and Joint Public Service Commission. The union is for centre and state commission manages the functions at the state level while the constitution also allows the merger of two or more state commission which is called as Joint Public Service Commission.

Pre-Independence Situation

There was a time when civil service personnel were appointed at the discretion of political leaders in power and were subject to biases and partiality. This method is not appropriate because the competency of such authority will always remain in doubt.

Public Service Commission was introduced in 1926, as when the Government of India Act,1919 came it was provided in this act that the Central Public Service Commission (CPSC) will be set up. On the 1st of April 1937 name of the CPSC was changed to the Federal Public Service Commission on the recommendation of the Government of India Act,1935.

The act of 1935 also provided for the establishment of the provincial Public service commissions for the different provinces at the colonial time.

Post-Independence Situation

Constitution of India recognized the Public Service Commission as a Constitutional body established under Article 315. It was declared as an autonomous body, as per Article 315, there will be Public commission at the central level as well at the state level.

For the central level, there is a Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and the State Public Service Commission (SPSC) at the state level. There is such division so the civil service officers can give proper and impartial counselling to the union and state governments i.e. to eliminate conflict of interest.[1]

But if any group of states mutually agree to have a common Public service commission, then it is also permitted under Article 315 clause(2) that it will be called Joint Public Service Commission (JPSC).

In addition to this, the governor of any state may request UPSC to cater to the requirements of the SPSC and for this, the governor needs the consent of the President. The Supreme Court observed that PSCs are constitutional bodies and play an essential role in the successful functioning of the democratic nation.

PSCs are empowered with most proficient people, therefore ordinary service law will not be applicable to such commission in terms of their transfer and adjournment.

I. Union Public Service Commission

UPSC is an autonomous body that is recruited by the President, it is an enrolling organization. It conducts examinations and enrols personnel at the national level. There are various examinations which are managed by it like Defence, Medical, Police Services, Civil Services, Engineering, etc. It was also present in colonial rule and it originated through the recommendation of Lee Commission in 1924.


The Constitution of India does not provide particular no. of members of such commission and as per Article 316(1), it is in the hands of the President to define its strength. There is one chairman of the commission and other members.

Generally, as the past years’ trend, members in UPSC range from nine to eleven. The First Chairman of the UPSC was Sir Ross Barker and present Chairman is Prof. Pradeep Kumar Joshi.


There is no prerequisite requirement for the chairman or the members of the Commission. But it is provided that half of the committee members should have served under any State or Union government office of at least ten years.

In Jai Shankar Prasad v. State of Bihar[2], the petitioner challenged the enrollment of the seventh member of the eleven-member commission who was not fulfilling such requirement and contended that it is the non-adherence of Article 315.

In this case, the Supreme court held this plea is not sustainable. It must be noted that the President is also responsible for specifying the conditions of the employment of the members and chairman of the Union Public Service Commission[3].

Under Article 316(1)(a), the acting Chairman can be appointed by the President in case of vacancy of the post or his/her absence[4].

Tenure and Security of the Members

As per Article 316 of the Constitution, members of the Commission are appointed for 6 years from the date of incumbency or until attaining the age of 65 years, whichever comes first.

UPSC brings efficiency in the democratic system, therefore to safeguard or to protect their interest and autonomy, the Constitution has made some provisions to promote non-discriminatory functioning:

  • Removal of the members and the chairman is only on the conditions specified in the constitution which is provided under Article 316(2)(b) and 317. President can remove the member of the UPSC on the ground of proved misbehaviour. Under Art 317, the President has to inform about the concerned member to the Supreme Court, who will establish an inquiry and submit its report to the President. This procedure assures the protection of the members of the PSCs so that it can function without any external dominance and discharge their duties properly and effectively[5].

The Supreme court in Punjab Public Service Commission Case[6] held that slapping the member of the commission is a kind of behaviour, that is not acceptable from a person of high rank and it is regarded as misbehaviour, therefore, the court declared the concerned member at the fault of disobedience.

  • As per Article 318, although the conditions of employment of the members of the UPSC is decided by the President, to eliminate his adverse dominance it is provided that once the member of the commission is incumbent, from then onwards, there should be no variation in such conditions to his disadvantage. In Bihar Public Service Commission v. Shiv Jatan Thakur (Dr.)[7], Hon’ble Supreme court held that facilities and convenience provided by Chairman and removal of the same will not come under Article 318.
  • There is no discretion of the President in charging the perks and stipend of the Members. It shall be handled by the Consolidated fund of India.
  • Under Article 316(3) of the Indian constitution, a person who is appointed as the member of the PSC is restricted from re-election to the Office and Article 319 states that any member of the PSC, after the expiry of their tenure is not allowed to incumbent any office under the government whether centre or state. It must be noted that according to clause b, the Chairman of the State Public Service Commission can be enrolled as the member or the chairman of UPSC. Member of SPSC can be enrolled as the member or chairman of any other SPSC (clause d).

Functions (Article 320-323)

  • Management of examinations at the national level (discussed above).
  • Provide aid to the states in the formulation of policies and schemes for the enrollment process of the various examinations.
  • Refund of the amount to the civil authorities for defending themselves in the court of law or any other expense incurred during the course of employment.
  • Promotion, relocation of the civil servants, and formulation of various rules regarding the same.
  • Demotion, termination, etc, regarding the civil servants.
  • Augmentation of the serving time of the civil servant etc.

It must be noted that all these functions cannot be performed by the Government alone hence, it can consult with the UPSC regarding the same but the government is not bound to follow such suggestions (Article 320(3)[8]. The government can also add in the above functions of the UPSC through the resolution passed in the parliament under Article 321[9].

Performance Report must be submitted to the President yearly by the Commission. PSCs do not need to be involved in the process of Reservations of various backward classes.


UPSC is considered as one of the most essential constitutional body. The commission is considered as the guardian of the merit system in India which ensures the proper enrollment in the public services of competent persons in Group A and B. It also acts as an advisor to the government in various functions like promotion, demotion and other civil services management processes discussed above.

It must be noted that UPSC is only an enrollment agency but handling training of the civil servants and other personnel is the responsibility of the Department of Personnel and Training which was established in 1985.

Also after the establishment of this commission, most of its role is kept limited and advisory in nature, and its work is further decentralized into various other commissions such as, in 1964, the Central Vigilance Commission was established, which reduced its scope in disciplinary matters.

II. State Public Service Commission

SPSC is basically similar to UPSC but SPSC works at the state level and UPSC works at a national level. Articles that apply to UPSC are also applicable to the SPSC. It manages examinations, terminations, functions, and powers as a public commission at the state level.


Article 315(1) introduces the State Public Commission in every State. The Constitution of India also permits the Joint State Public Commission which is more like a merger of more than one SPSC under Article 315(2).

For Joint Public Service Commission states involved must pass a law and then the parliament will allow the establishment of JPSC. Configurations of the SPSC are the same as UPSC. There is a chairman and other members of the commission and the same must be enrolled by the governor of the respective state.

In the case of JPSC, the member enrollments are to made by the President under Article 316(1). The requirements are also the same.

Conditions of the employment and the no. of members should be decided by the governor of the state as per Article 318. As in the case of UPSC, employment conditions are not subject to change to the disadvantage of the members during their course of employment. All the Provisions of UPSC are the same and applicable to the SPSC concerning functions, independence, and role.

Different provisions of SPSC from UPSC are:

  • The retirement age of the members of SPSC is 62 years.
  • Member may resign by informing the governor, incase of JPSC resignation must be given to the President as per 316 and 317.
  • Perks and stipends are charged from the Consolidated Fund of the State as per Article 322.

Under Article 317(1), the President can remove the member of the commission by informing the Supreme Court and if the Supreme Court’s report declares the member at the fault of misbehaviour, then the member of the JPSC or SPSC can be removed.

In Hargovind Pant v. Raghukual Tilak[10], Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the member of the SPSC can be enrolled as Governor of the state and it is not unconstitutional as, under Article 319(d), the office of governor is a constitutional body and is not under the control of the centre and the state.

It must be noted that the President can also terminate the member of SPSC and UPSC on the ground that the concerned member is insolvent or bankrupt.


At last, after knowing about the UPSC and other states PSCs, it must be noted that the role of Public Service Commissions is to find and recommend the appropriate persons to the government for the different posts in the various sectors like Civil Services, Police Forces, Medical, Defence Services, etc.

All this is done from the management of the examination of such services. PSCs also suggest some measures to the government for various matters. It is a constitutional body that is independent but it is to some extent under the control of President of the country but our constitution has given reasonable freedom to the commissions so that the political dominance cannot affect there working.


  • Jain M.P, Indian Constitutional Law (Wadhwa and Company Nagpur, 2003 5th edn.)
  • Laxmikant, Indian Polity (Mc. Graw Hill 6th edn.)
  • Constitution of India,1950
  • Revised by P. Puneeth, Assistant Research Professor. ILL, Available Here

[1] State of Uttar Pradesh v. Manbodhanlal Srivastava, AIR 1957 SC 912.

[2] (1993) 2 SCC 597

[3] Article 318

[4] Added by the 15th Amendment Act of 1963

[5] Ram Kumar Kashyap v. Union of India, (2009) 9 SCC 378.

[6] Ref. Punjab Public Service Comm., (1990) 4 SCC 262.

[7] 1994 Supp (3) SCC 220

[8] Major U.R. Bhatt v. Union of India. AIR 1962 SC 134

[9] Mira Chatterji v. Public Service Comm., AIR 1958 Cal. 345

[10] AIR 1979 SC 1109.

  1. Constitutional Law; Notes, Case Laws And Study Material
  2. Transformative Constitutionalism
Updated On 2 Sep 2020 5:52 AM GMT
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