It is really unfortunate that, of late, the reputation of an elite institution like PSC has suffered owing to the eruption of one scam after another in recent years

Last year, in an unprecedented development, the Governor of Haryana placed under suspension all the eight members as well as Chairperson of Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC). This was done after the President of India sent to the Supreme Court, a reference under Article 317 (1) of Constitution of India, which provides for holding an inquiry by the Supreme Court to ascertain the grounds of misbehaviour allegedly adopted by the members of a Public Service Commission(PSC) .

The members concerned were accused of adopting a biased and unfair approach in recruitments made under the previous regime. As a corollary, the Governor of Haryana (read the State Government) increased the strength of the State PSC to 12 and as such, appointed four new members. This practice can become a precedent for the other States too, especially when the Chairperson or members of a PSC refuse to put in their papers after a change of guard in a State.

Similarly, the Punjab Government requested the Union Public Service Commission to conduct the examination for selection to the Punjab Civil Service (Executive Branch). The move depicts a lack of faith and trust of the present State government in the working (or more precisely, composition) of the incumbent PSC. Although the UPSC has since refused to accede to the request, this only indicates the growing tendency of the emergence of souring relations between a duly elected State government and the constitutional institution of a PSC.

It is really unfortunate that, of late, the reputation of an elite institution like PSC, which enjoys an autonomous and independent stature, as bestowed by our Constitution, has suffered owing to the eruption of one scam after another in recent years. The credibility and reliability of such institutions have been in question on many unsavoury occasions.

Unfortunate trends

Our Constitution, though provides constitutional status and security of tenure to the incumbents of a PSC, has not provided for a due or proper procedure for their selection. In recent years, persons appointed to these coveted posts are not being duly selected, but are merely nominated and that too not by virtue of their distinguished academic background or expertise in a specific field or profession, but by degree of their loyalty to the party in power.

The PSCs have also become a rehabilitation ground for those who are unable to win elections. There have also been instances when bureaucrats owing to their proximity with the ruling elite have been able to secure the coveted PSC posts. The malady can be cured if the procedure of selecting the chairperson and members of the PSC is reformed by adopting healthy conventions.

The incumbents of a public service commission cannot be allowed to be appointed on the whims and fancies of the ruling party. A committee comprising the Chief Minister, the Speaker of the assembly, the leader of the opposition, the Chief Justice of the High Court and eminent academicians ought to be constituted for selection of Chairpersons and members of the PSC. A similar yardstick can also be adopted for making appointments to the UPSC, though its composition is comparatively better than the State PSCs.

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