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Public Service Commission

Articles 315 to 323 in Part XIV of the Constitution of India provides for the establishment of Public Service Commission for the Union and a Public Service Commission for each State. Each state has its own Public Service Commission with functions similar to the Union Public Service Commission. A difficult task in any country, it becomes all the more difficult in a multi-lingual, multi-religious country like India which has a number of minority groups and backward classes and where the state is the most significant employer and government service has a prestige of its own. The State Public Service Commissions were constituted under the provisions of the constitution of India. Union Public Service Commission is the India’s central agency. The agency’s charter was granted by the constitution of India. State Public service Commission is also a constitutional body.

Articles Relating To Public Service Commission:

Article 315 - Public service commissions for the Union and for the States.
Article 316 - Appointment and term of office of members.
Article 317 - Removal and suspension of a member of a Public Service Commission.
Article 318 - Power to make regulations as to conditions of service of members and staff of the Commission.
Article 319 - Prohibition as to the holding of offices by members of Commission on ceasing to be such members.
Article 320 - Functions of Public Service Commission.
Article 321 - Power to extend functions of Public Service Commission.
Article 322 - Expenses of Public Service Commission.
Article 323 - Reports of Public Service Commission.

Union Public Service Commission

(A) Composition:
The U.P.S.C. consists of a Chairman and a number of members who are appointed by the President who, of course, acts in this matter, on the advice of the concerned Ministers [Arts. 315(1) and 316(1)].
The President may appoint an acting Chairman of the Commission if the office of the Chairman falls vacant, or if the Chairman is unable to discharge his functions due to absence or some other reason. The acting Chairman functions till the Chairman is able to resume his duties, or the person appointed as Chairman enters on the duties of the office [Art. 316(1-A)].
A member of the Commission is to hold office for six years from the date he takes charge of his office, or until he attains the age of sixty-five years, whichever is earlier [Art. 316(2). A member may, however, resign from his office by writing to the President [Art. 316(2) (a)].

State of Mysore v. R.V.Bidap, AIR 1973 SC 2555: (1974) 3 SCC 337.
I this case, the Supreme Court held that a member, when appointed as Chairman in the middle of his term, starts a new six year term subject to other provisions of the Constitution.

(B) Removal Of A Member:
The Chairman of the Public Service Commission is expected to show absolute integrity and impartiality in exercising the powers and duties as Chairman. His actions shall be transparent and he shall discharge his functions with utmost sincerity and integrity. If there is any failure on his part, or he commits any act which is not befitting the honor and prestige as a Chairman of the Public Service Commission, it would amount to misbehavior as contemplated under the constitution. If it is proved that he has shown any favor to the candidate during the selection process that would certainly be an act of misbehavior.
In R/O Ram Ashray Yadav, Chairman, State of Bihar, AIR 2000 SC 1448 at 1456: (2000) 4 SCC 309.
In this reference, the court concluded that no charge of misbehavior was established against Dr. Yadav, although, at times, he “did not exhibit exemplary behavior or conduct, expected of him”. There were ‘’lapses” on his part but not “misbehavior” within the meaning of Art.317 of the Constitution inviting action of his removal from office under Art.317(1).

(C) Other Provisions:
A person who holds office as a member of the Commission cannot be re-appointed to that office on the expiry of his term of office [Art.316(3)], nor is he eligible for any other employment under the Central or the State Government [Art. 319(c)]. He can, however, be appointed as the Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission, or a State Public Service Commission [Art.319(c)].
The expenses of the UPSC, including any salaries, allowances and Pensions payable to or in respect of the members of the staff of the commission, are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India [Art.322]. This provision frees the Commission from parliamentary pressures.

(D) Functions Of The Commission:
It is the duty of the Union Public Service Commission to conduct examinations for appointment to the services of the Union [Art.320 (1)]. This does not mean that the examination should always be competitive and not selective. The object of holding the examination is to test the capacity of the candidates and just to have an idea whether a particular candidate is fit for the proposed appointment or not. In addition to the results of the examination, other considerations may also be kept in view in making appointments, e .g. the viva voce test. PSCs must scrupulously follow the statutory rules during recruitment and in making appointment.

H.S.Bedi v. Patiala, AIR 1953 Pepsu 196.
In this case, the Supreme Court held that the provision is directory and not mandatory and any appointment by the Government without consulting the Commission would not be invalid.

Kesava v. State of Mysore, AIR 1956 Mys. 20.
The Mysore High Court has held that since the Commission is an advisory or a consultative body to the Government, and also because under Art.323 the Government has to explain the reasons for non- acceptance of the Commission’s advice, it is not open to the Commission to withhold any information wanted by the Government.

(E) Staff Of The Supreme Court
The members of the staff of the Supreme Court do not fall within the purview of Art. 320(3) (c). The administrative control in respect of the staff of the Supreme Court is vested in the Chief Justice who has the power to appoint, remove, and make rules for their conditions of service. While the constitutional safeguards under Art.311 are available to every person in the civil service including persons employed in the Supreme Court, the safeguard in Art. 320(3) (c) is not available to the staff of the Supreme Court, otherwise it would be contrary to the implications of Art.146.

Jatinder Kumar v. State of Punjab, (1985) 1 SCC 122.
It has been held by the Supreme Court that the words “shall be consulted’’ in clause (3) of Article 320 are not to be construed as mandatory and accordingly in the absence of consultation the action of the Government under any of the sub-clauses of clause(3) shall not be null and void.

State Public Service Commission

(A) Composition:
The Constitution establishes a Public Service Commission in each State [Art. 315(1)]. It is possible for two or more States to have a Joint Public Service Commission [Art.315 (2)]. The basic policy of the Constitution is that each State should have its own Public Service Commission, but if for administrative or financial reasons it is not possible for each State to have a Commission of its own, two or more States may have a Joint Public Service Commission. The composition of the State Commissions is governed by the same constitutional provisions as apply to the Union Commission. Thus, a State Commission consists of a Chairman and several members who are appointed by the Governor [Art 316(1)]. In case of a Joint Commission, the President makes these appointments [Art.316 (1)]. Like the U.P.S.C., as nearly as may be, one half of the members of a State Commission should be persons who have held a government office for at least ten years at the date of their appointment to the Commission [proviso to Art.316(1)].

All provisions regarding the tenure of a member of the Union Commission apply mutatis mutandis to a member of a State Commission except with the following differences:
1. The age of retirement of a member of a State Commission is 62 years instead of 65 years as in the case of a member of the U.P.S.C.

2. To resign, a member of a State Commission writes to the Governor and a member of a Joint Commission to the President [Arts. 316 and 317].

3. The expenses of the State Commission are charged on the Consolidated Fund of the State [Art.322]. The Governor makes provisions with respect to the number of the Commission’s Staff and their conditions of service.

4. Under Art.317 (1), the President makes a reference to the Supreme Court, the question of misbehavior committed by the Chairman or a member of the State Public Service Commission for inquiry and report. If the court reports that he should be removed from office on any such ground, then the President shall remove him.

Hargovind Pant v. Raghukual Tilak
In this case, it has been ruled by the Supreme Court that a member of a State Public Service Commission can be appointed as the Governor of a State. The main reason for this ruling being that the office of the Governor, is a high constitutional office and cannot be said to be under the Government of India.

(B) Functions Of The State Commission

A State Public Service Commission discharges all those functions in respect of the State Services as does the Union Commission in relation to the Union Services. The protection of Art. 320 (3) (c) does not apply to the staff of the High Court and, therefore, the Chief Justice need not consult the State Public Service Commission when he dismisses a High Court employee. The State Legislature may impose additional functions on the State Commission regarding the State Services, local authority, public institutions or any other corporate authority constituted by law [Art. 321].

The State Commission is to be consulted by the Governor while framing rules for appointment to judicial service other than the posts of District Judges [Art. 234].

The State Commission is to present to the Governor an annual report of the work done by it. The report and the Governor’s memorandum explaining as respects the cases where the Commission’s advice was not accepted and the reasons for such non-acceptance, are to be laid before the State Legislature [Art. 323(2)]. A Joint Commission presents a similar report to each of the concerned State Governors and each Governor then takes the action as detailed above [Art.323(2)].

R. Hariharan v. K. Balachandran Nair, AIR 2000 SC 2933: (2000) 7 SCC 399.
In this case, a statutory provision requiring the Electricity Board to consult the State Public Service Commission in the matter of appointment of assistant engineers has been held to be mandatory.

Bihar Public Service Commission v. S.J. Thakur, AIR 1994 SC 2466: 1994 Supp SCC 220.
The Supreme Court has ruled that a member of the Commission could not question the validity or correctness of the functions performed or duties discharged by the Public Service Commission as a body. A member is regarded as a party to the function discharged or duty performed by the Commission, even though the member concerned might have been a dissenting member, or a member in a minority, or a member who abstained from participation in the function performed or duty discharged.

So, it is clear that the Public Service Commission is a constitutional and independent authority. It plays a pivotal role in the selection and appointment of persons to public services. The Commission has to perform its functions, and duties in an independent and objective manner uninfluenced by the dictates of any other authority. The Public Service Commission is expected to be fair and impartial and to function free from any influence from any quarter. Unfortunately, these bodies have not always maintained these high standards in some of the States.

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