Historical Perspective of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)
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. 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. 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. 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 re-organization 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.
- Article-315. Public Service Commissions for the Union and for the States.
- Article-316. Appointment and term of office of members.
- Article-317. Removal and suspension of a member of a Public Service Commission.
- Article-318. Power to make regulations as to conditions of service of members and staff of the Commission.
- Article-319. Prohibition as to the holding of offices by members of Commission on ceasing to be such members.
- Article-320. Functions of Public Service Commissions.
- Article-321. Power to extend functions of Public Service Commissions.
- Article-322. Expenses of Public Service Commissions.
- Article-323. Reports of Public Service Commissions.
Under Article 320 of the Constitution of India, the Commission is, inter-alia, required to be consulted on all matters relating to recruitment to civil services and posts. The functions of the Union Public Service Commission under Article 320 of the Constitution are:
- Conduct examinations for appointment to the services of the Union.
- Direct recruitment by selection through interviews.
- Appointment of officers on promotion / deputation / absorption.
- Framing and amendment of Recruitment Rules for various services and posts under the Government.
- Disciplinary cases relating to different Civil Services.
- Advising the Government on any matter referred to the Commission by the President of India.