Constitutional Bodies

Constitutional Bodies

Constitutional Bodies

1. Union Public Service Commission (Article 315 to 323)

• The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is an independent recruiting agency of Union and performs other functions as provided by the constitution.
• Chairman and other members of UPSC shall be appointed by President of India. The Constitution has not specified the strength of members of UPSC and left it on discretion of President. Generally, UPSC consist of 9 to 11 members.
• In Article 316, it is mentioned that at least one half of the members of UPSC shall be the persons who have held office for at least 10 yrs either under Government of India or Government of a State. But not specified any qualifications for other half members of UPSC.
• A member of UPSC shall hold office for a term of 6yrs from date on which he enters into the office or until he attains age of 65 yrs whichever is earlier. Provided that a member can resign any time to President and can be removed from his office.
• The President can appoint one of members of UPSC as acting chairman if office of chairman becomes vacant or if chairman of UPSC is by reasons of absence or for any other unable to perform his duties.
• The Chairman of UPSC is not eligible for further employment either under Govt of India or a State. The other members of UPSC are only eligible for office of Chairman of UPSC or Chairman of a State PSC but not for any other employment.
• The Chairman or any member of UPSC can be removed by President in following circumstances:-

If he adjudged an insolvent (i.e. bankrupt); If he holds any office of profit or engages in any paid employment during term of office and outside the duties of his office; If in opinion of President, he is unfit to continue in office by infirmity of mind or body.
Instead of above reasons, President can remove a member of UPSC from office on grounds of misbehaviour, but after found guilty in an inquiry made by Supreme Court. During the course of inquiry, the President can suspend the member and decision of SC after inquiry shall be binding on the President. ‘Misbehaviour’ – if he a) is or becomes in any way concerned or interested in any contract or agreement made by Govt of India or state, or b) participates in any way in the profit or in any benefit arising out from that contract.

• The functions are described as follows:

a) To conduct examinations for appointments to services of the Union such as All India and Central Services. The Talent hunting (recruitment) is the most important function of the UPSC.
b) To assist states if requested by two or more states, the UPSC assist them in framing and operating schemes of joint recruitment for any services for which candidates possessing special qualifications are required.
c) The UPSC shall be consulted –
• On all matters relating to methods of recruitment of civil services and civil posts;
• On the principles to be followed in making appointments to above posts and in promotions & transfers from one service to another and on suitability of candidates for such appointments, promotions and transfers.
• 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 in such matters;
• 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.
• On any claim for reimbursement of legal expenses incurred by a civil servant in defending legal proceedings against him in respects of act done in execution of his duties should be paid out of Consolidating Fund of India;
In all above maters under article 320, it is mandatory to consult UPSC but advice is not binding on govt. So the function of UPSC is to advice and not to decide.
d) The Parliament may by legislation provide for the exercise of additional functions in respect to services of Union and personnel system of local authority or any other body corporate under jurisdiction of UPSC.

2. State Public Service Commission

• A State Public Service Commission consists of a chairman and other members appointed by the governor of the state.
• The Constitution does not specify the strength of the Commission but has left the matter to the discretion of the Governor. Further, no qualifications are prescribed for the commission’s membership except that one-half of the members of the commission should be such persons who have held office for at least ten years either under the government of India or under the Government of a state.
• The Constitution also authorises the governor to determine the conditions of service of the chairman and members of the Commission.
• The chairman and members of the Commission hold office for a term of six years or until they attain the age of 62 years, whichever is earlier (in the case of UPSC, the age limit is 65 years). However, they can relinquish their offices at any time by addressing their resignation to the governor. The governor can appoint one of the members of the SPSC as an acting chairman in the following two circumstances:

(a) When the office of the chairman falls vacant; or
(b) When the chairman is unable to perform his functions due to absence or some other reason.

The acting chairman functions till the person appointed as chairman enters on the duties of the office or till the chairman is able to resume his duties.

• The chairman and members of a SPSC are appointed by the governor, they can be removed only by the president (and not by the governor). The president can remove them on the same grounds and in the same manner as he can remove a chairman or a member of the UPSC.
• In addition to these, the president can also remove the chairman or any other member of SPSC for misbehaviour. However, in this case, the 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.

3. Joint State Public Service Commission

• The Constitution makes a provision for the establishment of a Joint State Public Service Commission (JSPSC) for two or more states. While the UPSC and the SPSC are created directly by the Constitution, a JSPSC can be created by an act of Parliament on the request of the state legislatures concerned. Thus, a JSPSC is a statutory and not a constitutional body. The two states of Punjab and Haryana had a JSPSC for a short period, after the creation of Haryana out of Punjab in 1966.
• The chairman and members of a JSPSC are appointed by the president. They hold office for a term of six years or until they attain the age of 62 years, whichever is earlier. They can be suspended or removed by the president. They can also resign from their offices at any time by submitting their resignation letters to the president.
• The number of members of a JSPSC and their conditions of service are determined by the president. A JSPSC presents its annual performance report to each of the concerned state governors. Each governor places the report before the state legislature.
• The UPSC can also serve the needs of a state on the request of the state governor and with the approval of the president.

4. Election Commission

• The Constitution of India has vested in the Election Commission of India the superintendence, direction and control of the entire process for conduct of elections to Parliament and Legislature of every State and to the offices of President and Vice-President of India.
• Election Commission of India is a permanent Constitutional Body. The Election Commission was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25th January 1950.
• Appointment: Art 324 provides for a Chief Election Commissioner to be appointed by the President. He can also appoint any number of Election Commissioners. Originally the commission had only a Chief Election Commissioner. It currently consists of Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
• For the first time two additional Commissioners were appointed on 16th October 1989 but they had a very short tenure till 1st January 1990. Later, on 1st October 1993 two additional Election Commissioners were appointed. The concept of multi-member Commission has been in operation since then, with decision making power by majority vote.
• The decisions are arrived at by either consensus or majority in a multi-member Election Commission. There is a provision to appoint Regional Commissioners before each general election to Lok Sabha and State Assembly and before the general election and thereafter before each biennial election to the Legislative Council. The President appoints them in consultation with the Election Commission.
• Removal: The CEC can be removed only on the same grounds and in the same manner as a judge of the Supreme Court. An Election Commissioner or a Regional Commissioner can be removed by the President only on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner.
• Functions: The Election Commission superintends, directs and controls the elections to Parliament, State Legislatures and Union Territories, Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections. In this regard, it performs the following functions:

(a) Preparation of electoral rolls.
(b) Conduct of elections.
(c) Counting of votes and declaration of results.
(d) To advise the President in regard to the question whether a Member of Parliament (Art. 103) or a State Legislature has become subject to any disqualification (Art. 192).
(e) To advice the President in the appointment of Regional Commissioner.
(f) Advisory Jurisdiction & Quasi-Judicial Functions: Under the Constitution, the Commission also has advisory jurisdiction in the matter of post election disqualification of sitting members of Parliament and State Legislatures. Further, the cases of persons found guilty of corrupt practices at elections which come before the Supreme Court and High Courts are also referred to the Commission for its opinion on the question as to whether such person shall be disqualified and, if so, for what period. The opinion of the Commission in all such matters is binding on the President or, as the case may be, the Governor to whom such opinion is tendered.
(g) The Commission has the power to disqualify a candidate who has failed to lodge an account of his election expenses within the time and in the manner prescribed by law. The Commission has also the power for removing or reducing the period of such disqualification as also other disqualification under the law.
• Independence of the Election Commission: The role of the Election Commission is pivotal. Impartiality of elections is vitally linked to the independence of the Commission. Other provisions dealing with CEC and Election Commissioners are dealt with in the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (conditions of service), Act. In the performance of its functions, Election Commission is insulated from executive interference. It is the Commission which decides the election schedules for the conduct of elections, whether general elections or bye-elections. Again, it is the Commission which decides on the location polling stations, assignment of voters to the polling stations, location of counting centres, arrangements to be made in and around polling stations and counting centres and all allied matters.

5. Finance Commission

• For the purpose of allocation of certain sources of revenue, between the Union and the State Governments, the Constitution provides for the establishment of a Finance Commission under Article 280.
• According to the Constitution, the President of India is authorized to set up a Finance Commission every five years to make recommendation regarding distribution of financial resources between the Union and the States.
• Finance Commission is to be constituted by the President every 5 years.

The Chairman must be a person having ‘experience in public affairs’. Other four members must be appointed from amongst the following:-
a) A High Court Judge or one qualified to be appointed as High Court Judge;
b) A person having knowledge of the finances and accounts of the Government;
c) A person having work experience in financial matters and administration;
d) A person having special knowledge of economics.
• Functions: The Finance Commission recommends to the President as to:-
a) the distribution between the Union and the States of the net proceeds of taxes to be divided between them and the allocation between the States of respective shares of such proceeds;
b) the principles which should govern the grants-in-aid of the revenue of the States out of the Consolidated Fund of India;
c) the measures needed to augment the Consolidated Fund of a State to supplement the resources of the Panchayats and Municipalities in the State;
d) Any other matter referred to the Commission by the President in the interest of sound finance.

(Note: CAG, Attorney General for India, Advocate General of India has been already covered under Other Executives Section of Day 13).

National Commission for SCs, STs and Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities will be covered under Bodies related to Social Welfare on Day 29).