Public Service commission: Composition, Powers and Functions

Public Service commission: Composition, Powers and Functions

Public service is defined as a service that is provided to the people by the government of the  country or a state concerned; Commission is defined as a group of people who are officially  charged with a particular act. So, we can say that the public service commission is that  commission or agency which is charged to recruit public servants (chosen people who serve  the public of their country) on a merit basis by conducting examinations at the central and  state level.  

The origin of the public service commission in India dates back to 1919 when the first is part  of the government of India on 5 March 1919 the Indian constitutional reform which is referred  to the need to establish permanent offices for the regulation of service matters. Further,  section 96(c) of the government of India act, 1919 provided for the establishment of a public  service commission to discharge such functions as may be assigned in the relation to the  recruitment and control of public services in India. Thereby the secretary in the council by  rules made by the state. Subsequently, the Lee commission also recommended a public  service commission, which was set up on 1st Oct 1926 and the 1st member of this commission  was Sir Ross Barker.  

After the passage of the government of India Act 1935, this public service commission was  converted into federal public service commission after the enforcement of the constitution on  26th January 1950 the name of the federal public service commission was changed to Union  public service commission. The commission has been constituted under article 315 of the  constitution.  

The public service commission is an independent constitutional body that is enshrined under  Article 315- Article 323 of Part XIV of the Indian constitution. There are three public service  commissions in India.  

  1. Union public service commission (UPSC)  
  2. State public service commission (SPSC)  
  3. Joint public service commission (JPSC)  

Constitutional Provisions  

Article 315 to 323 of Part XIV of the Indian Constitution deals with the composition of UPSC,  SPSC, appointment, and removal of its members, and the powers and functions of UPSC, SPSC.  Under this provision, JSPSC is also mentioned. 

  • Article 315: Constitution of Public Service Commissions (PSC) for the Union  and the States of India.  
  • Article 316: Appointment and term of office of members of UPSC as well as  SPSC.  
  • Article 317: Removal and suspension of a member of both the UPSC or SPSC.  
  • Article 318: Power to make regulations for the conditions of service of members  and staff of the Commission.  
  • Article 319: Prohibition of holding the office by members of Commission upon  ceasing to be such members.  
  • Article 320: States the functions of Public Service Commissions.  
  • Article 322: Expenses of Public Service Commissions.  
  • Article 323: Reports of Public Service Commissions.  


  • Both U.P.S.C and S.P.S.C consists of one chairman and other members at central  and state level respectively. 
  • The commission consists of 9 to 11 members including the chairman, though the  number is nowhere defined or mentioned and it varies from time to time and is  decided by the president in case of UPSC and by the governor in case of SPSC. 
  • The present strength of the commission is 11 which is a chairperson and 10 other  members. 


The appointment of members of UPSC and SPSC is mentioned under article 316 of the  Indian constitution.  

  • The chairman and other members of UPSC and SPSC are appointed by the president  and governor of the state respectively.  
  • Though there is no specific qualification is mentioned in the constitution, one-half  (50%) of the UPSC members must be those who have served in a government office  for at least 10 years.  
  • The person to be appointed as a member of UPSC and SPSC should hold any office  of profit under the central or state government.  
  • When the chairman post is vacant or when the chairman is unable to perform his  duties, then the president and governor can appoint one of the members of UPSC and  SPSC as the chairman of UPSC and SPSC respectively. 

Condition of service: In the case of UPSC the president shall be determined the number  of members and their condition of service. Present shall make the provision regarding  the member of staff and their services. And in the case of SPSC governor of state have  the same duty as the president. So, the condition of service of members of UPSC and  SPSC shall not be amended after his/her appointment that may lead to his/her  disadvantages.  


  • In the case of UPSC any member can hold office till the age of 65 years or for a  term of six years whichever is earlier, In the case of SPSC any member can hold  the office till the age of 62 years or for a term of six years whichever is earlier. 
  • Chairman of the UPSC and SPSC can leave their offices at any time by  addressing their resignation to the president and governor respectively. In both cases UPSC and SPSC the president can remove the chairman or any  other member on the ground (Removal provision is given under article 317): 
    • If he sees any member unfit  
    • If the chairman and any member dissolve insolvent on the view of the  president  
    • During his tenure of office if chairman or any member engaging in any  offers which give him payment. 
  • But on the ground of misbehavior then the president will consult or refer the case  to the supreme court, then the supreme court will form a body which will  investigate those cases and the supreme court will advise the president and that  advice is binding on the president. 
  • The president and governor can suspend the member and chairman of UPSC and  SPSC respectively during the period when the matter is being inquired by the  supreme court. 


The main strength or power of UPSC and SPSC is advisory power. It empowers the  president and the governor of any state to advise on the matters of  

  • Development of competencies on all matters relating to appointment to the civil  services of the government and the standard of candidates for transfer,  promotion, and appointment in all civil posts.  
  • In respect of punctuality of decision and discipline in the government act of  paying compensation to a government servant, if the employee has suffered any  problem or financial loss due to negligence on the part of the government.  
  • Matters relating to the demand and benefits of employees working under civil  services and those injured in the line of duty.  
  • It has the power to deal with the matters relating to the remedy of the punishment  of employees who have violated discipline or with all matters relating to the  interest of government servants working under the central government and the  state government.  

So that the constitution of India has made the UPSC and SPSC advisory bodies  provide advice on matters referred by the president of India or by the governor of the concerned state. That’s why UPSC and SPSC is the recruiting agency at the central  level and state level respectively.  


Article 320 talks about the functions of the public service commission in which it says  that:  

  • Its function is to recruit meritorious and potential candidates into  
  • administrative services after being selected through competitive examination  at all India and state respectively.  
  • The function of UPSC and SPSC is to assist the legislature in planning and  conducting joint recruitment for any services for which candidate must  possess a particular qualification  
  • UPSC advises the president and SPSC advises the governor on all matters  relating to the method of recruitment to civil services and for civil posts.  
  • U.P.S.C. and S.P.S.C. lay down principles to be followed  
    • in making appointments to the posts of civil servants;  
    • in making promotions and transfers from one service to another;  
    • for checking the suitability of candidates for such appointment  promotions or transfers.  
  • It also deals with all disciplinary matters affecting a person serving in a civil  capacity under the government of India or the governor of a state. It may also  include a memorial or petition relating to such a matter.  


J.S.P.S.C stands for Joint state public service commission. This kind of commission is  formed when two or more states request the assistance of UPSC in conducting a combined  examination for recruitment to the services in all states. According to article 315 of the  constitution of India, provisions have been made regarding the establishment of a joint state  public service commission for two or more states. However, UPSC and SPSC have been  created directly by an act of parliament at the request of the concerned state legislature and  that’s why JSPSC is a statutory body.  

  • According to article 316 chairman and other members are appointed by the president  of India.  
  • Any member can hold their offices in term of 6 years or till the age of 62 years  whichever is earlier.  
  • Under article 317 members of JSPSC may submit their written resignation to the  president of India. And also, they can be removed or suspended by the president of  India.  
  • As per article 318, President can determine the number of members of the  commission and the term and conditions of their offices.  
  • According to article 323 JSPSC must present the annual report to the governor of  each state which has together formed the commission. 
  • On the request of the state governors and with the approval of the President U.P.S.C.  can also serve the needs of a state. 


Thus, the public service commission is the basic structure that encompasses  and protects the meritorious nature of the Indian civil services. 

Author: RIYA RAJ,

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