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HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

Civil Servants for the East India Company used to be nominated by the Directors of the Company and thereafter trained at Haileybury College in London and then sent to India. Following Lord Macaulay’s Report of the Select Committee of British Parliament, the concept of a merit based modern Civil Service in India was introduced in 1854. The Report recommended that patronage based system of East India Company should be replaced by a permanent Civil Service based on a merit based system with entry through competitive examinations. For this purpose, a Civil Service Commission was setup in 1854 in London and competitive examinations were started in 1855. Initially, the examinations for Indian Civil Service were conducted only in London.UPSC Exam Notification & Recruitment 2017-18

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Maximum age was 23 years and minimum age was 18 years. The syllabus was designed such that European Classics had a predominant share of marks. All this made it difficult for Indian candidates. Nevertheless, in 1864, the first Indian, Shri Satyendranath Tagore brother of Shri Rabindaranath Tagore succeeded. Three years later 4 other Indians succeeded. Throughout the next 50 years, Indians petitioned for simultaneous examinations to be held in India without success because the British Government did not want many Indians to succeed and enter the ICS. It was only after the First World War and the Montagu Chelmsford reforms that this was agreed to. From 1922 onwards the Indian Civil Service Examination began to be held in India also, first in Allahabad and later in Delhi with the setting up of the Federal Public Service Commission.

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The Examination in London continued to be conducted by the Civil Service Commission. Similarly, prior to independence superior police officers belonged to the Indian (Imperial) Police appointed by the Secretary of State by competitive examination. The first open competition for the service was held in England in June, 1893, and 10 top candidates were appointed as Probationary Assistant Superintendents of Police. Entry into Imperial Police was thrown open to Indians only after 1920 and the following year examinations for the service were conducted both in England and India. Indianisation of the police service continued to be very slow despite pronouncement and recommendations of the Islington Commission and the Lee Commission. Till 1931, Indians were appointed against 20% of the total posts of Superintendents of Police.

However, because of non availability of the suitable European candidates, more Indians were appointed to the Indian Police from the year 1939 onwards. Regarding Forest Service, British India Government started the Imperial Forest Department in 1864 and to organize the affairs of the Imperial Forest Department, Imperial Forest Service was constituted in 1867. From 1867 to 1885, the officers appointed to Imperial Forest Service were trained in France and Germany. Till 1905, they were trained at Coopers Hill, London. In 1920, it was decided that further recruitment to the Imperial Forest Service would be made by direct recruitment in England and India and by promotion from the provincial service in India.

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After independence, the Indian Forest Service was created in 1966 under All India Service Act 1951. Regarding Central Civil Services, the Civil Services in British India were classified as covenanted and uncovenanted services on the basis of the nature of work, pay-scales and appointing authority. In 1887, the Aitchinson Commission recommended the reorganization of the services on a new pattern and divided the services into three groups-Imperial, Provincial and Subordinate. The recruiting and controlling authority of Imperial services was the ‘Secretary of State’. Initially, mostly British candidates were recruited for these services. The appointing and controlling authority for Provincial services was the respective provincial government, which framed rules for these services with the approval of the Government of India.

With the passing of the Indian Act 1919, the Imperial Services headed by the Secretary of State for India, were split into two-All India Services and Central Services. The central services were concerned with matters under the direct control of the Central Government. Apart from the Central Secretariat, the more important of these services were the Railway Services, the Indian Posts and Telegraph Service, and the Imperial Customs Service. To some of these, the Secretary of State used to make appointments, but in the great majority of cases their members were appointed and controlled by the Government of India. The origin of the Public Service Commission in India is found in the First Dispatch of the Government of India on the Indian Constitutional Reforms on the 5th March, 1919 which referred to the need for setting up some permanent office charged with the regulation of service matters.

This concept of a body intended to be charged primarily with the regulation of service matters, found a somewhat more practical shape in the Government of India Act, 1919. Section 96(C) of the Act provided for the establishment in India of a Public Service Commission which should “discharge, in regard to recruitment and control of the Public Services in India, such functions as may be assigned thereto by rules made by the Secretary of State in Council”. After passing of the Government of India Act, 1919, in spite of a prolonged correspondence among various levels on the functions and machinery of the body to be set up, no decision was taken on setting up of the body.

The subject was then referred to the Royal Commission on the Superior Civil Services in India (also known as Lee Commission). The Lee Commission, in their report in the year 1924, recommended that the statutory Public Service Commission contemplated by the Government of India Act, 1919 should be established without delay. Subsequent to the provisions of Section 96(C) of the Government of India Act, 1919 and the strong recommendations made by the Lee Commission in 1924 for the early establishment of a Public Service Commission, it was on October 1, 1926 that the Public Service Commission was set up in India for the first time. It consisted of four Members in addition to the Chairman. Sir Ross Barker, a member of the Home Civil Service of the United Kingdom was the first Chairman of the Commission.


The functions of the Public Service Commission were not laid down in the Government of India Act, 1919, but were regulated by the Public Service Commission (Functions) Rules, 1926 framed under sub-section (2) of Section 96(C) of the Government of India Act, 1919. Further, the Government of India Act, 1935 envisaged a Public Service Commission for the Federation and a Provincial Public Service Commission for each Province or group of Provinces. Therefore, in terms of the provisions of the Government of India Act, 1935 and with its coming into effect on 1st April, 1937, the Public Service Commission became the Federal Public Service Commission. With the inauguration of the Constitution of India in January 26, 1950, the Federal Public Service Commission came to be known as the Union Public Service Commission, and the Chairman and Members of the Federal Public Service Commission became Chairman and Members of the Union Public Service Commission by virtue of Clause (1) of Article 378 of the Constitution.

Constitutional Provisions

  1. Subject to the provisions of this article, there shall be a Public Service Commission for the Union and a Public Service Commission for each State.

  2. Two or more States may agree that there shall be one Public Service Commission for that group of States, and if a resolution to that effect is passed by the House or, where there are two Houses, by each House of the Legislature of each of those States, Parliament may by law provide for the appointment of a Joint State Public Service Commission (referred to in this Chapter as Joint Commission) to serve the needs of those States.

  3. Any such law as aforesaid may contain such incidental and consequential provisions as may be necessary or desirable for giving effect to the purposes of the law.

  4. The Public Service Commission for the Union, if requested so to do by the Governor of a State, may, with the approval of the President, agree to serve all or any of the needs of the State.

  5. References in this Constitution to the Union Public Service Commission or a State Public Service Commission shall, unless the context otherwise requires, be construed as references to the Commission serving the needs of the Union or, as the case may be, the State as respects the particular matter in question.

  1. The Chairman and other members of a Public Service Commission shall be appointed, in the case of the Union Commission or a Joint Commission, by the President, and in the case of a State Commission, by the Governor of the State:

    Provided that as nearly as may be one-half of the members of every Public Service Commission shall be persons who at the dates of their respective appointments have held office for at least ten years either under the Government of India or under the Government of a State, and in computing the said period of ten years any period before the commencement of this Constitution during which a person has held office under the Crown in India or under the Government of an Indian State shall be included.

    1. If the office of the Chairman of the Commission becomes vacant or if any such Chairman is by reason of absence or for any other reason unable to perform the duties of his office, those duties shall, until some person appointed under clause (1) to the vacant office has entered on the duties thereof or, as the case may be, until the Chairman has resumed his duties, be performed by such one of the other members of the Commission as the President, in the case of the Union Commission or a Joint Commission, and the Governor of the State in the case of a State Commission, may appoint for the purpose.

  2. A member of a Public Service Commission shall hold office for a term of six years from the date on which he enters upon his office or until he attains, in the case of the Union Commission, the age of sixty-five years, and in the case of a State Commission or a Joint Commission, the age of sixty-two years, whichever is earlier:
    Provided that—

    1. a member of a Public Service Commission may, by writing under his hand addressed, in the case of the Union Commission or a Joint Commission, to the President, and in the case of a State Commission, to the Governor of the State, resign his office;

    2. a member of a Public Service Commission may be removed from his office in the manner provided in clause (1) or clause (3) of article 317.

  3. A person who holds office as a member of a Public Service Commission shall, on the expiration of his term of office, be ineligible for reappointment to that office.

On ceasing to hold office-

  1. the Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission shall be ineligible for further employment either under the Government of India or under the Government of a State;

  2. the Chairman of a State Public Service Commission shall be eligible for appointment as the Chairman or any other member of the Union Public Service Commission or as the Chairman of any other State Public Service Commission, but not for any other employment either under the Government of India or under the Government of a State;

  3. a member other than the Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission shall be eligible for appointment as the Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission or as the Chairman of a State Public Service Commission, but not for any other employment either under the Government of India or under the Government of a State;

  4. a member other than the Chairman of a State Public Service Commission shall be eligible for appointment as the Chairman or any other member of the Union Public Service Commission or as the Chairman of that or any other State Public Service Commission, but not for any other employment either under the Government of India or under the Government of a State.

  1. It shall be the duty of the Union and the State Public Service Commissions to conduct examinations for appointments to the services of the Union and the services of the State respectively.

  2. It shall also be the duty of the Union Public Service Commission, if requested by any two or more States so to do, to assist those States in framing and operating schemes of joint recruitment for any services for which candidates possessing special qualifications are required.

  3. The Union Public Service Commission or the State Public Service Commission, as the case may be, shall be consulted—

    1. on all matters relating to methods of recruitment to civil services and for civil posts;

    2. on the principles to be followed in making appointments to civil services and posts and in making promotions and transfers from one service to another and on the suitability of candidates for such appointments, promotions or transfers;

    3. on all disciplinary matters affecting a person serving under the Government of India or the Government of a State in a civil capacity, including memorials or petitions relating to such matters;

    4. on any claim by or in respect of a person who is serving or has served under the Government of India or the Government of a State or under the Crown in India or under the Government of an Indian State, in a civil capacity, that any costs 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, or, as the case may be, out of the Consolidated Fund of the State;

    5. on any claim for the award of a pension in respect of injuries sustained by a person while serving under the Government of India or the Government of a State or under the Crown in India or under the Government of an Indian State, in a civil capacity, and any question as to the amount of any such award,

    and it shall be the duty of a Public Service Commission to advise on any matter so referred to them and on any other matter which the President, or, as the case may be, the Governor of the State, may refer to them:

    Provided that the President as respects the all- India services and also as respects other services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union, and the Governor, as respects other services and posts in connection with the affairs of a State, may make regulations specifying the matters in which either generally, or in any particular class of case or in any particular circumstances, it shall not be necessary for a Public Service Commission to be consulted.

  4. Nothing in clause (3) shall require a Public Service Commission to be consulted as respects the manner in which any provision referred to in clause (4) of article 16 may be made or as respects the manner in which effect may be given to the provisions of article 335.

  5. All regulations made under the proviso to clause (3) by the President or the Governor of a State shall be laid for not less than fourteen days before each House of Parliament or the House or each House of the Legislature of the State, as the case may be, as soon as possible after they are made, and shall be subject to such modifications, whether by way of repeal or amendment, as both Houses of Parliament or the House or both Houses of the Legislature of the State may make during the session in which they are so laid.


An Act made by Parliament or, as the case may be, the Legislature of a State may provide for the exercise of additional functions by the Union Public Service Commission or the State Public Service Commission as respects the services of the Union or the State and also as respects the services of any local authority or other body corporate constituted by law or of any public institution.

The expenses of the Union or a State Public Service Commission, including any salaries, allowances and pensions payable to or in respect of the members or staff of the Commission, shall be charged on the Consolidated Fund of India or, as the case may be, the Consolidated Fund of the State.

  1. It shall be the duty of the Union Commission to present annually to the President a report as to the work done by the Commission and on receipt of such report the President shall cause a copy thereof together with a memorandum explaining, as respects the cases, if any, where the advice of the Commission was not accepted, the reasons for such non-acceptance to be laid before each House of Parliament.

  2. It shall be the duty of a State Commission to present annually to the Governor of the State a report as to the work done by the Commission, and it shall be the duty of a Joint Commission to present annually to the Governor of each of the States the needs of which are served by the Joint Commission a report as to the work done by the Commission in relation to that State, and in either case the Governor, shall, on receipt of such report, cause a copy thereof together with a memorandum explaining, as respects the cases, if any, where the advice of the Commission was not accepted, the reasons for such nonacceptance to be laid before the Legislature of the State.

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Trilok Singh

Started Post-Graduation at Kirori Mal College DU (2015-17), Graduated from Shivaji College DU (2015), Started IAS Studies at Rau's IAS Study Circle. Etc.

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