UNION PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION (UPSC)

UNION PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION (UPSC)

 

 BACKGROUND
  • Union Public Service Commission is an independent Constitutional body. It is basically the central recruiting agency.
  • Part XIV, Article 315 to 323 deals with the composition, appointment and removal of members along with the independence, powers and functions of the UPSC.
  • UPSC falls under the ambit of Ministry of personnel
  • Government of India Act, 1919 proposed to set up Federal Public Service Commission.
  • In 1926 on the recommendation of Lee Commission (1924), the Federal Public Service Commission was established.
  • Government of India Act, 1935 provided for the Central and State Public Service Commission.

 

OBJECTIVES
  • Responsible for the recruitment of the all-India services and Central services –group A and group B services.
  • UPSC acts as watchdog of merit system in India.
ArtExplanation
315Public Service Commissions for the Union and for the states
316Appointment and term of office of members
317Removal and suspension of a member of a Public Service Commission
318Power to make regulations as to conditions of service of members and staff of the Commission
319Prohibition as to the holding of office by members of commission on ceasing to be such members
320Functions of Public Service Commissions
321Power to extend functions of Public Service Commissions
322Expenses of Public Service Commissions
323Reports of Public Service Commissions

 

COMPOSITION
  • The Constitution, without specifying the strength of the Commission has left the matter to the discretion of the President, who determines its composition.
  • The UPSC consists of a Chairman and other members who are appointed by the President of India.
  • The Constitution also authorises the President to determine the conditions of service of the chairman and other members of the Commission.
  • Generally there are nine to eleven members including the Chairman.
  • The President of India enjoys discretionary power to determine the composition and conditions of service of the chairman and other members of UPSC.
  • According to the Constitution of India, 50% of the members of UPSC should be those who have held government office for at least 10 years. It mentions no other qualification.
  • All the members including the Chairman hold office for a six years term, or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • All the members including the Chairperson can resign from their offices at any time by addressing their resignation to the President.
The President can temporarily appoint one of the members of the UPSC as an acting chairman if:
1.The office of the chairman of the commission becomes vacant; or
2.The chairman of the commission is unable to perform the duties of his office due to absence or for any other reason

 

REMOVALS

The President can remove the Chairman or any other member if –

  • He has gone insolvent or bankrupt.
  • He engages in any paid employment outside the duties of his office during his tenure.
  • He found it unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body.
  • The president can also remove the chairman or any other member of UPSC for misbehaviour, however it is subject to Judicial inquiry under the supervision of the Supreme Court.
  • Under the provisions of the Constitution, the advice tendered by the Supreme Court in this regard is binding on the president.

 

 

INDEPENDENCE
  • Security of Tenure – The chairman and other members of UPSC can only be removed on the basis of grounds mentioned in the constitution only.
  • The conditions of service of the chairman and the members cannot be changed to their disadvantage after the appointment.
  • No requirement of vote of Parliament to meet the expenses of UPSC as all the expenses are charged on Consolidated fund of India.
  • Chairman cannot be re-employed in the Government, not even on the same post.
  • The members can be re-appointed to UPSC or any State PSC though, but not any other employment.

 

FUNCTIONS
  • It conducts examinations for appointment to the All-India Services, Public services of centrally administered territories and Central services–group A and group B services.
  • It assists the States (if requested by 2 or more states) of joint recruitment for any services for selecting special qualifications from candidates.
  • It can serve any or all needs of the state upon their Governor’s request by permission of the President.
  • The UPSC consults the government upon matters related to personnel management.
  • It presents, annually, a report on its performance to the President. The President then places this report before both the houses of Parliament, along with a memorandum which explains the non-acceptance of the Commission’s advice.
  • The role of UPSC is limited and recommendations made by it are only advisory in nature, hence, not binding upon the government.
  • It is upto the Union government to accept or reject that advice. The only safeguard is the answerability of the government to the Parliament for departing from the recommendation of the Commission.

The additional functions relating to the services of the Union can be conferred on UPSC by the Parliament. It can also place the personnel system of any authority, corporate body or public institution within the jurisdiction of the UPSC. The jurisdiction of UPSC can be extended by an act made by the Parliament.

All cases of non- acceptance must be approved by the Appointments Committee of the Union cabinet. An individual ministry or department has no power to reject the advice of the UPSC.

 

UPSC AND CVC
  • Since the inception of CVC, the role of UPSC in disciplinary matters has been affected. Both are consulted by the government while taking disciplinary action against a civil servant.
  • UPSC being an independent body has an edge over CVC which got statutory status in 2003.
  • To avoid possibilities of the difference of opinion between UPSC and CVC any one will be consulted.

 

LIMITATIONS
  • While making reservations of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens
  • While taking into consideration the claims of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in making appointments to services and posts
  • With regard to the selections for chairmanship or membership of commissions or tribunals, posts of the highest diplomatic nature and a bulk of group C and group D services
  • With regard to the selection for temporary appointments for not more than a year.

The Supreme Court has held that if the government fails to consult UPSC in the matters, the aggrieved public servant has no remedy in a court. The court held that any irregularity in consultation with the UPSC or acting without consultation does not invalidate the decision of the government.

 

CHALLENGES IN CIVIL SERVICES
  • Status Quo attitude – As instruments of public service, civil servants have to be ready for change. The common experience, however, is that they resist the changes in certain matters.
  • Rule Book Bureaucracy – Following only the rules and laws of the book without taking care of actual needs of the people evokes issues like red-tapism, the complication of procedures, etc.
  • Political interference – Often the political representative for the sake of fulfilling their populist demand, influences the functioning of administrative officials. This leads to issues like corruption, arbitrary transfers of honest civil servants.
  • Generalist officers – Civil Service are meant to deliver the core functions of the state, i.e. from maintaining law and order to implementation of Government Schemes. However, with the evolution of society, the demands has also changed, for example the normal crime has now shaped into cybercrime. Thus, there is a higher demand (of specialist officers) for domain knowledge at policy level.

 

Need to repeal Article 311

‘Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely’ a reckoning thought under abysmal discussion of removal of our Article 311 which provides the removal of a civil servant only by a authority superior to by which he was appointed. However, it acted as a shield against corrupt officials while affecting the morale of honest.

Thus, repeal of article 311 needs reconsideration-

 

Arguments for

  1. Reduces corruption and complacency in decision making
  2. Promotes discipline, efficiency and effectiveness of administration
  3. Encourage administrative values like honesty, dedication and motivation
  4. ARC report and National Commission for Review of Constitution has also recommended.

 

Arguments against

  1. Dismissal without inquiry is against the principles of natural justice of right to being heard before accused guilty.
  2. Arbitrary dismissals driven by partisan interests affects neutrality and autonomy of administration
  3. The inquiry process needs expedition than repeal

 

Thus, Article 311 should be amended and enquiry proceedings should be expedited in a fair, transparent and time bound manner, to encourage honest officials to act without fear or favour, while punishing the guilt , as envisaged by Sardar Patel .

 

REFORMS

These lacunas can be address through timely interventions in areas of recruitment, training and evaluation, governance, etc. by implementing the following recommendations of different committees and institutions –

  • Lateral entry – Recruitment of specialists at higher levels of government will provide much needed expertise.
  • Rationalization and harmonization of services – By reducing the existing 60 plus separate civil services at the central and state level. Recruitment should take place from a central talent pool, which would then allocate candidates by matching their competencies and the job description of the post.
  • Outsource service delivery – Efforts need to be made to outsource service delivery to reduce dependence on the administrative machinery.
  • Nurture specialization – The key to reform in the civil services is encouraging officers to cultivate specializations based on their education and skills early on in their careers. Wherever possible, longer tenure postings need to be made based on the officers’ expertise.
  • Compulsory retirement for underperforming officers – Develop benchmarks to assess the performance of officers and compulsorily retire those deemed unable to meet the benchmarks.
  • Incentivizing– Review existing schemes and introduce new schemes of incentives for extraordinary performance.
  • There is a need to strengthen the implementation of the Hota Committee(2004) recommendation of e-governance.
  • There is a need to strengthen implementation of a Centralized Public Grievance Redressal and Monitoring System (CPGRAMs).
Second ARC recommendations on Public Service Code
1.Adherence to the highest standards of probity, objectivity, empathy for the weaker section of the public, etc
2Impartiality and non-partisanship
3Empathy towards the vulnerable and weaker sections of the society.
4Commitment to the citizen’s concern and public good

 

LATERAL ENTRY
  • The term lateral entry relates to the appointment of specialists (also called domain experts), mainly those from the private sector, in government organisations.
  • Government is looking for outstanding individuals, with expertise in revenue, financial services, economic affairs, agriculture, cooperation and farmers’ welfare, road transport and highway, shipping, environment, forests and climate change, new and renewable energy, civil aviation and commerce.

 

 

NEED OF LATERAL ENTRY
  • To bring new dimensions and fresh talent in Policy Making – It is essential to have people with specialized skills and domain expertise in important positions as policy making is becoming complex in nature.
  • To increase in efficiency and governance – NITI Aayog, in its Three-Year Action Agenda for 20172020 had said that sector specialists be inducted into the system through lateral entry as that would “bring competition to the established career bureaucracy”.
  • To deal with the complexity in governance – requires specialists and domain expertise, due to emergence of new issues like globalisation, digitalisation of governance, financial frauds, cybercrime, organized crime, terrorism, climate-change among others.
  • To fill the gap of officers (shortage of nearly 1,500 IAS officers) with efficient, experienced and domain expertise the scheme of lateral entry is the need of the hour. The Baswan Committee (2016) had also recommended the lateral entry.
  • Will help widen the talent pool for appointment – Recruitment of IAS officers at very young age makes it difficult to test potential administrative and judgment capabilities.

 

PROS OF LATERAL ENTRY IN CIVIL SERVICES
  • The administrative problems at the implementation level (district, tehsil, panchayat) require intervention of specialists with domain expertise and not generalist IAS cadre.
  • The administrative setup turns civil servants who may be subject specialists at the time of their recruitment into generalists after 9–12 years of service.
  • The experience of domain level experts in Planning Commission and NITI Aayog has been quite good so far.
  • There will be a much needed cross-flow of ideas between the career based bureaucrats and domain level experts recruited from outside.
  • Lateral entry into civil services has been recommended by many commissions and committees and is not a new idea. Many committees and commissions (2nd ARC, Hota Committee, Surinder Nath Committee) have recommended lateral entry.
  • The lateral entrants will catalyse the career civil servants (mostly IAS officers) to specialise in their chosen field.

 

CHALLENGES FACED AFTER LATERAL ENTRY
  • There is a fear that lateral entry could turn into a “spoils system” where politically committed individuals could get handpicked.
  • Lateral entry into civil services undermines the career progression avenues of existing civil servants.
  • The argument that there is dearth or scarcity of specialists at the senior level of management in the civil services is flawed.
  • Lateral entry into civil services undermines the policy of reservation mandated by the Constitution.
  • Difficult to ensure responsibility and accountability – for the decisions taken by the private people during their service, especially given the short tenures of 3 to 5 years.
  • Issue of Reservation– It is unclear whether there would be reservation for recruitment through Lateral Entry or not.
  • Lack of long-term stakes – The advantage with the current civil service is that policy makers have long- term interests in government.
  • Lack of field experience– Officers who will join might score on domain knowledge, but they may fall short on the experience of working in the “field”.
  • May face resistance from the Bureaucracy-
  • Lack of cooperation by peers.
  • Difficulty in adjusting to the bureaucratic work culture.
  • May demotivate the existing officials.

 

WAY FORWARD
  • While Lateral entry is a need of hour to bring expertise into higher echo leans of power, however certain safeguards are required to ensure that this novel idea is not misused,
  • Need to learn from earlier experiences – The past experience of inducting private-sector managers to run public-sector enterprises has not been particularly satisfactory. For e.g. Air India, Indian Airlines etc.
  • Longer tenures of lateral entrants, which will allow them sufficient time to settle, learn and implement their approach, blueprint for work.
  • Various reforms apart from institutionalised lateral entry are the need of the hour such as:
    • Set up Public Administration Universities for aspiring and serving civil servants
    • Deputation of the bureaucrat to the Private Sector for domain expertise.
    • Institutionalize goal setting and tracking for each department.

 

 

CIVIL SERVICES RATIONALISATION PLAN
  • 5 – year vision document prepared by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) proposes for Rationalising of the services
  • Reducing the number of services from the existing ~ 60 to 3/4.
  • The idea was proposed in 2018 by NITI Aayog in its Report ‘New India@75’.

 

OBJECTIVE

To put in place a reformed system of recruitment, training and performance evaluation of the civil service to ensure more effective and efficient delivery of public services to achieve the development goals envisaged in New India 2022.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS
  • Reduce the number of civil services – The existing 60 plus separate civil services at the central and state level needs to be reduced through rationalization and harmonization of services.
  • Recruits should be placed in a central talent pool, which would then allocate candidates by matching their competencies and the job description of the post.
  • Encourage lateral entry– Inducting specialists at higher levels of government will provide much needed expertise.
  • Nurture specialization– The key to reform in the civil services is encouraging officers to cultivate specializations based on their education and skills early on in their careers.
  • Hiring policies – The upper age limit for the civil services should be brought down to 27 years for the general category in a phased manner by 2022-23. Service conditions for employees of autonomous bodies need to be regulated and harmonized.
  • Strengthen and leverage online avenues for training
  • Introduce pre and post-training matching of skills to determine postings.
  • Digitize human resource records across states.
  • Develop a competency matrix to monitor ongoing skill acquisition and help match requirements with resources in real time.
  • Institute an e-learning platform to conduct training modules.

 

CHANGES IN FOUNDATION COURSE AND MARKING SYSTEM
  • A decision by the Centre to remove the ranking in the civil service examination as the sole criteria for allotment of services to the candidates selected by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
  • Instead, 10 percent weightage will now be given to the performance of selected candidates in the mandatory combined foundation course.

 

CENTRAL CIVIL SERVICES (CONDUCT) RULES, 1964
  • Several provisions of Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964 (CCS (conduct) rules, 1964) are often used against public servants which restricts their fundamental rights.

 

CIVIL SERVANTS AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
  • Subject to the power of Parliament, under Article 33, to modify the fundamental rights in their application to members of the Armed Forces and the Police Forces, the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution are in favour of all ‘citizens’, which obviously include public servants.
  • While a public servant possesses the fundamental rights as a citizen, the State also possesses, under the Proviso to Article 309, the power to regulate their ‘conditions of service’.

 

COMMITTEES ON CIVIL SERVICES REFORMS
CommitteeRecommendations
A.D. Gorwala Report (1951)1.Recruitment to all grades of Government service should be conducted in a manner which eliminates scope for patronage.

2. Highlighted training and an adequate organization and methods set-up

Dr. A. Ramaswamy Mudaliar Committee (1956)Recommended  University degree should be the minimum qualification for recruitment into the higher services.

 

D.S. Kothari Committee Report (1976)A two stage examination process – a preliminary examination followed by a main examination.
The Fifth Central Pay Commission (1994)Employment on contract basis should be encouraged and Government employees should have the right to retain their lien for two years in case they wish to migrate to the private sector.
Yoginder K. Alagh Committee (2001)Recommended testing the candidates in a common subject rather than on optional subjects.
Yugandhar Committee (2003)Recommended the need for three mid-career training programmes in the 12th, 20th and 28th years of service.
Hota Committee Report (2004)The age for entrants to the higher civil services should be between 21-24 years with a five years’ age concession for members of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and three years’ for the Other Backward Classes.
The first ARC (1964)Proper personnel planning and cadre management
Khanna Committee (2011)The introduction of CSAT in 2010.
Baswan Committee (2016)Reduction of upper age limit, removal of optional paper