Union Public Service Commission

Union Public Service Commission

  • Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is the central recruiting agency in India. It is an independent constitutional body in the sense that it has been directly created by the Constitution.
  • Articles 315 to 323 in Part XIV of the Constitution deals with it.


  • UPSC consists of a chairman and other members appointed by the President of India.
  • Constitution, without specifying the strength of the Commission has left the matter to the discretion of the President, who determines its composition. Usually, Commission consists of nine to eleven members including the chairman.
  • No qualifications are prescribed for the Commission’s membership except that one-half of members of Commission should be such persons who have held office for at least ten years either under the Government of India or  government of a state.
  • Constitution also authorises President to determine the conditions of service of the Chairman and other members 


  • Chairman and members of the Commission hold office for a term of six years or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • However, they can relinquish their offices at any time by addressing their resignation to the president.


  • They can be removed before the expiry of their term by the President in the manner as provided in the Constitution.
  • The President can remove the chairman or any other member of UPSC from the office under the following circumstances:
    • If he is adjudged an insolvent (that is, has gone bankrupt);
    • If he engages, during his term of office, in any paid employment outside the duties of his office; or
    • If he is, in the opinion of the President, unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body.
  • In addition to these, the president can also remove the chairman or any other member of UPSC for misbehaviour. However, in this case, President has to refer the matter to the Supreme Court for an enquiry. If the Supreme Court, after the enquiry, upholds the cause of removal and advises so, the president can remove the chairman or a member. Under the provisions of the Constitution, the advise tendered by the Supreme Court in this regard is binding on the President. During the course of enquiry by the Supreme Court, the President can suspend the chairman or the member of UPSC.


  • Chairman or a member of the UPSC can be removed from office by the president only in the manner and on the grounds mentioned in the Constitution. Therefore, they enjoy security of tenure.
  • The conditions of service of the chairman or a member, although determined by President, cannot be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.
  • Entire expenses including the salaries, allowances and pensions of the chairman and members of the UPSC are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India. Thus, they are not subject to vote of Parliament.
  • Chairman of UPSC (on ceasing to hold office) is not eligible for further employment in the Government of India or a state
  • Member of UPSC (on ceasing to hold office) is eligible for appointment as the chairman of UPSC or a State Public Service Commission (SPSC), but not for any other employment in the Government of India or a state.
  • Chairman or a member or UPSC is (after having completed his first term) not eligible for reappointment to that office (i.e., not eligible for second term).


  • It conducts examinations for appointments to the All-India Services, Central Services and Public services of the centrally administered territories.
  • It  assists the States (if requested by two or more states to do so) in framing and operating schemes of Joint Recruitment for any services for which candidates possessing special qualifications are required.
  • It  serves all or any of the needs of a state on the request of the State Governor and with the approval of the president of India.
  • It  is consulted on the  matters related to personnel management

Supreme Court Judgement

  • Supreme Court has held that if government fails to consult UPSC in the matters (mentioned above), aggrieved public servant has no remedy in a court. In other words, the court held that any irregularity in consultation with the UPSC or acting without consultation does not invalidate the decision of the government.
  • Similarly, the court held that a selection by the UPSC does not confer any right to the post upon the candidate. However, the government is to act fairly and without arbitrariness or malafides.

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. Hence the jurisdiction of UPSC can be extended by an act made by the Parliament.

The UPSC presents, annually, to the president  a report on its performance. The President places this report before both the Houses of Parliament, along with a memorandum explaining the cases where the advice of the Commission was not accepted and the reasons for such non-acceptance. All such 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.


Following matters are kept outside functional jurisdiction of  UPSC. In other words, the UPSC is not consulted

  • While making reservations of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens.
  • While taking into consideration the claims of SCs & STs 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 or officiating appointment to a post if the person appointed is not likely to hold the post for more than a year.
  • President can exclude posts, services and matters from the purview of the UPSC. Constitution states that the President, in respect to the all-India services and Central services and posts may make regulations specifying the matters in which, it shall not be necessary for UPSC to be consulted. But all such regulations made by the president shall be laid before each House of Parliament . Parliament can amend or repeal them.

Role of UPSC

  • Constitution visualises the UPSC to be the ‘watch-dog of merit system’ in India.
  • It is concerned with the recruitment to the all-India services and Central services—group A and group B and advises the government, when consulted, on promotion and disciplinary matters.
  • It is not concerned with the classification of services, pay and service conditions, cadre management, training, and so on. These matters are handled by the Department of Personnel and Training—one of the three departments of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. Therefore, UPSC is only a central recruiting agency while the Department of Personnel and Training is the central personnel agency in India.
  • The role of UPSC is not only limited, but also recommendations made by it are only of advisory nature and hence, not binding on the government. It is upto the Union government to accept or reject that advise. The only safeguard is the answerability of the government to  the Parliament for departing from the recommendation of the Commission. Further, the government can also make rules which regulate the scope of the advisory functions of UPSC.

The emergence of Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in 1964 affected the role of UPSC in disciplinary matters. This is because both are consulted by the government while taking disciplinary action against a civil servant. The problem arises when the two bodies tender conflicting advise. However, the UPSC, being an independent constitutional body, has an edge over the CVC, which is created by an executive resolution of the Government of India and conferred a statutory status in October 2003.

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