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Statutory Institutions/Commissions: Union Public Service Commission

The UPSC is the vital recruitment agency in India. It is an independent constitutional body being directly formed by the Constitution of India. The UPSC comprises of a Chairman and other members selected by the President of India. Generally, there are nine to eleven members including the Chairman of the commission.

UPSC conducts the Civil Services Examination, Indian Forest Service examination, Engineering Services Examination, Combined Defence Services Examination, National Defence Academy Examination, Naval Academy Examination, Combined Medical Services Examination, Special Class Railway Apprentice, Indian Economic Service/Indian Statistical Service Examination, Combined Geoscientist and Geologist Examination, and Central Armed Police Forces (Assistant Commandant) Examination.

Every year, the examination is conducted through UPSC in two phases:

  1. UPSC prelims
  2. UPSC mains.

While the preliminary examination consists of multiple choice questions (MCQ), the questions in mains are in the form of descriptive and essay type.

Historical review:

When reviewing the history, it is demonstrated that the Public Service Commission was established with the recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Superior Civil Services in India under the Chairmanship of Lord Lee, which submitted its Report in 1924. This led to the establishment of the first Public Service Commission on 1 October 1926 under the Chairmanship of Sir Ross Barker. The limited advisory function accorded to the Public Service Commission and the continued stress on this aspect by the leaders of our freedom movement resulted in the setting up of a Federal Public Service Commission under the Government of India Act, 1935. The Federal Public Service Commission became the Union Public Service Commission after Independence and it was given a Constitutional status with promulgation of constitution of India on 26 January 1950.

Approximately fifty percent of the members of the commission should be officers who have held office for at least ten years either under the Government of India or under the Government of a State. The President is authorized by the Constitution to determine the condition of service of the Chairman and other members of the commission. The members including the Chairman Hold office for a term of six years or until they attain the age of 65 years. They may be removed before the expiry of their term in the manner provided in the Constitution.

As per the Act 315 of the constitution of India, there shall be a permanent Union Public Service Commission to recruit candidates for the various posts of the central government services. Similarly, as Act 318 of the constitution of India also stated that the Union Public Service Commission will be constituted with a chairman and a fixed number of members; the number of such members and the terms and conditions of their service are to be determined by the President of India. The President, as such, appoints the Chairman and other members of the commission for a period of six years.

It is established that according to Act 317 of the constitution of India, the period of service of the chairman and other members of the Union Public Service Commission is not determined by the pleasure of the executive department of the government of India and as such, they cannot be removed from their positions quite easily.

The President of India has authority to remove these members from their officers under the special charge of bribery and dishonest behaviour by a special measure. The system is, when a special charge against any member of the Union Public Service Commission is made before the President of India about corruption and dishonesty, the latter directs the Supreme Count of India to make enquiry on it and the Supreme Court after making the inquiry submits its report to him. If the suspected charge is proved against the member or even the chairman of the commission the President can remove him from his office. Art. 317(2) also stated that if a member is found insolvent or mentally and physically unfit then also the President can remove him from the post of membership.

Table: Constitution provision with regard to UPSC (Laxmikanth, 2011):

Article related to UPSC at a glance

Sl. No.

Article No.

Subject Matter



Public service Commissions for the union and for the States



Appointments and term of office of members



Removal and suspension of a member of a Public service Commissions



Power to make regulations as to conditions of service of members and staff of commission



Prohibition as to the holding of office by members of commission on ceasing to be such members



Functions of Public service Commissions



Power to extend functions of Public service Commissions



Expenses of Public service Commissions



Reports of Public service Commissions

It is found that the constitution of India has also implemented certain procedures to guarantee the neutrality and impartiality of the Union Public Service Commission. The Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission has not been permitted to take any personal profit under the central or any of the state governments after his retirement from service as chairman. Furthermore, before the expiry of their term of service, the executive cannot remove the Chairman or any of the members of the commission from their service. They can be removed only through the means stipulated in the constitution. Apart from this, once these members are appointed, the terms and conditions of their services cannot be changed. Art. 322 states that the salaries and allowances of these members including the chairman will be considered as expenditure charged upon the consolidated fund of India, which means that their salaries and allowances are not subjected to the approval of the Parliament.

Major functions of the UPSC: There are several functions of UPSC which is set by Art. 320 of the constitution of India (Laxmikanth, 2011):

  1. UPSC conducts exams at All-India level for the Central Services and Public Services of the centrally and Ministered Territories.
  2. Commission assists the States in framing and operating schemes of joint recruitment for any services requiring special qualifications.
  3. Commission serves the interests of the State on the request of the State Governor and with the approval of the President of India.
  4. Commission consulted on matters, some of which are as under:
    • Claim for reimbursement of legal express incurred by a civil servant in defending proceeding instituted against him.
    • Matters of temporary appointments for period exceeding one year and on regularization of appointments.
    • Matters related to personnel management etc.
      UPSC makes recommendations which are only of advisory in nature and are not binding on the government. The only protection is the responsibility of the Government to the Parliament for passing from the recommendation of the commission.
  5. Union Public Service Commission recommends for appointment in administrative services the meritorious and prospective young men and women after selecting them through All India competitive examinations.
  6. If two or more state governments request then the UPSC assists them in framing and operating schemes of joint recruitment for any service for which candidates possessing special qualification are required.
  7. UPSC advises the President on following matters:
    • All matters relating to methods of recruitment to civil services and for civil posts.
    • The principles to be followed in making appointments to civil services and posts and in making promotions and transfers from the service to another and on the suitability of candidates for such appointments promotions or transfer.
    • All disciplinary matters impacting individual serving under the Government of India or the Government of a State in a civil capacity, including memorials or petitions relating to such matter.
    • Any claim in respect of a person who is serving or has served under the govt. of India in a civil capacity, that any cost incurred by him in defending, legal proceedings instituted against him in respect of acts done or purporting to be done in the execution of his duty should be paid out of the consolidated fund of India.
    • Any claim for the award of a pension in respect of injuries sustained by a person while serving under the government of India in a civil capacity and any question as to the amount of such award.
    • Any other matter which may be referred to it by the President for advice.
      It is well observed that the powers of the Union Public Service Commission are limited within its advisory activities only. The role of UPSC is basically concerned with recruitment of all India services, Group A, and group B and advises to the government. It is not concerned with classification of services, cadre management, and training.

List of former Chairperson and Members of the Commission:

  1. - Sir Ross Barker (1926)
  2. - Sir David Petrie
  3. - Sir Eyre Gorden
  4. - Sir F.W. Robertson
  5. - Sh. H.K. Kripalani
  6. - Sh. R.N. Banerjee
  7. - Sh. N. Govindarajan
  8. - Sh. V.S.Hejmadi
  9. - Sh. B.N.Jha
  10. - Sh. K.R. Damle
  11. - Sh. R.C.S. Sarkar
  12. - Dr. A.R.Kidwai
  13. - Dr. M.L. Shahare
  14. - Sh. H.K.L. Capoor
  15. - Sh. J.P.Gupta
  16. - Mrs. R.M.Bathew (Kharbuli)
  17. - Sh. S.J.S. Chhatwal
  18. - Sh. J.M. Qureshi
  19. - Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Surinder Nath
  20. - Sh. P.C. Hota
  21. - Sh. Mata Prasad
  22. - Dr. S.R. Hashim
  23. - Sh. Gurbachan Jagat
  24. - Sh. Subir Dutta
  25. - Sh. DP Agarwal
  26. - Smt. Rajni Razdan
  27. - Sh. Deepak Gupta (Present)

In present scenario, the governance demands more vigorous role from UPSC. It is a body which has proven its abilities. The role of commission should not be restricted to appointment related recommendation. It should be given supervisory authority over performance of service under the Union (Laxmikanth, 2011).

To summarize, the Union Public Service Commission, abbreviated as UPSC, is India's prime agency authorised to conduct various competitive examination for several civil service vacancies in government of India. Requirements for UPSC are given from Articles 313 to 323 of the Constitution. UPSC makes recommendations for employment to services and it is also referred on all disciplinary matters regarding higher services.