State of Mysore Vs. R. V. Bidap 
INSC 160 (3 September 1973)
SIKRI, S.M. (CJ) PALEKAR, D.G.
CITATION: 1973 AIR 2555 1974 SCR (1) 589 1974
SCC (3) 357
R 1974 SC 613 (45) R 1982 SC 149 (240,708) E
1984 SC 684 (33,34)
Constitution of India. 1950, Arts. 316, 317
and 319-office of member and office of Chairman of Public Service Commission if
different-Period for which office of Chairman can be held where member is appointed
Chairman-'Ceasing to hold office as member in Art. 319, Scope of-Policy behind
Article 316(2) of the Constitution provides
that a member of a Public Service Commission should 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 years,
whichever is earlier.
The respondent was appointed a member of the
State Public Service Commission in March 1967. About two years later he was
appointed as Chairman of the Commission the question of the date from which the
period of six years for which he was entitled to hold office should be counted.
HELD : The office of member is different from
the office of the Chairman. and so the respondent was entitled to hold office
for the period of six years its Chairman of the Commission counted from the
later date when he assumed office is Chairman.
(a) Article 316 deals with the appointment of
the Chairman and members of the Commission their term of office and their
ineligibility for ree-appointment. It shows that a Chairman of a Public Service
Commission is also a member of the Public Service Commission that is a member
can fill one of two offices-ordinary member or member-Chairman. But Ar. 316(lA)
shows that the office of a member is different from that of the Chairman.
[601E-G] (b) The ineligibility provided for in Art. 316(3) is reappointment to
that office. Hence the disability for re-appointment attaches to the specific
office, that is no member who holds the office of just a member, pure and
simple, shall be re-appointed to that office, that is, to the office of member
pure and simple. But Art. 319(d), which bars a member from taking employment
under Government, expressly declares by way of exception, eligibility for
appointment ",is the Chairman of that or any other State Public Service
Commission" on ceasing to held office as member, that is, a member of the
Public Service Commission of a State, on ceasing to hold office as such, is
eligible for appointment as Chairman of that Commission itself. it follows that
a member when elevated to the higher office of Chairman is not reappointed but
is appointed to the different office of Chairman. The prescription of the
terminus a quo in Art. 316(2) is "from the date on which he enters upon
his office" which, in the case of a Chairman appointed directly as such or
originally as a member and later elevated to Chairman, begins when he starts
functioning as Chairman. [601H-602D] (c) Logically and legally there is
automatic expiry of office of the member qua ordinary member on his assumption
of office qua Chairman. When a member holding office of a member takes no the
office of Chairman he by necessary implication and co instante, relinquishes or
ceases to hold his office is member and the, requirement (if Art. 319 is
satisfied. [6O2G-6O3H] (d) Article 316(2) states that a member shall hold
office for term of six years or until he attains 60 years whichever is earlier:
which means that on the expiration of the period of 6 years he ceases to hold
office. Logically 590 therefore, Art. 319 means that a member, on ceasing to
hold office as a result of his six year term expiring, shall be eligible for
appointment as Chairman of the same Commission.
There is no substance in the argument that,
on the above interpretation, is member can be appointed, in violation of Art.
316(2). as Chairman not merely when the six-year term expires, but also after
he has attained the age of 60 years. When an ordinary member is appointed as
Chairman by virtue of the permission written into Art. 319(d), what really
happens is that the incumbent takes up a new office, namely, that of Chairman.
This member--cum-Chairman, in terms of Art.
316(2) shall hold office. which in this case means his new office, for a term
of 6 years or until he attains the age of 60 years whichever is earlier.
[603D-G] (e) It could not be argued that the cessation contemplated by Art. 319
is not the category of persons whose six-year term has expired but those who
have been removed for infirmities under Art. 317, because, the wrote purpose of
Art. 319 is to maintain purity is services by prohibiting temptation in future
offices or employment and, it is unlikely that the framers of the Constitution
would have contemplated by a special provision the appointment to higher posts
of persons who were unworthy, [6O3A-D] (f) It is true that an indefinite term
of office and frequent renewals in the same State or in the Union are fraught
with possible patronage and interference with the purity of the functioning of
the Public Service Commission and that they should therefore be prevented by
legal interdict. But in fact the number of instances when a member of a Public
Service Commission had held office for more than 6 years are few. Besides,
anything between 6 to 12 years may not be so very long to justify the argument
of fear that the above object of a brief term would be frustrated. In the last
resort, the menace to purity of these high offices comes as much from dubious
pressure and patronage is from other causes and where the highest seats of
power do not guard against these evil$, no constitution, no law, no court can
save probity in administration. [596H597G] The majority view in Dhivendra
Krishna v. Corpn of Calcutta, A.I.R. 1966 Cal, 290 overruled.
Upenda Pas v. State, A.I.R. 1970 Orissa 205
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal
No. 992 of 1973.
Appeal from the judgment and order dated the
June 4, 1973 of the Mysore High Court at Bangalore in Writ Petition No. 774 of
R. N. Byra Reddy, A. K. Sen, M. Veerappa, for
S. S. Javali and B. R. Agarwala, for the
L. N. Sinha, Solicitor General of India and
S. P. Nayar, for Intervener No. 1.
O. P. Rana, for Intervener No. 2.
A. R. Gupta and Narayan Nettar, for
intervener No. 3.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
KRISHNA IYER, J. A short issue as to the expiration of the constitutionally
guaranteed tenure of office of a Member of the Public Service Commission, who,
in the middle of his term, reincarnates as its Chairman and claims a fresh sixyear
spell, has lent itself to considerable argument at the Bar, the contributory
causes being the differing views of courts, varying practices of States,
apparent incongruity between the paramount purpose and the expressed language
of 591 the provisions and the slight obscurity of the relevant articles, the
expert drafting and careful screening by the 'founding fathers'
One Shri Bidap, the respondent in this
appeal, was appointed Member of the State Public Service Commission by the
Governor of Mysore on March 20,, 1967. While his term was still running, the
Governor was pleased to appoint him Chairman of the Commission with effect from
February 15, 1969. The State took the view that the six years assured to him by
Article 316(2) commenced to run from the date he became Member simpliciter and
did not receive a fresh start from the later date when he assumed office as
Government's view on the issue was revealed
in answer to an interpellation in the Legislative Council made on March 17,
1973. On this-reckoning the Chairman's term would have ended on the 19th and
so, the panicked respondent hastened to the High Court to avert the peril of
premature ouster and sought an appropriate writ interdicting Government's move.
The timely interim order and the eventual
allowance of the writ petition balked the hope of Government and drove the
State to this Court in quest of a final pronouncement on the constitutional
question involved. While there is divergence of judicial opinion at the High
Court level, the preponderance of authority, including a ruling of the Mysore
High Court itself, militates against the appellant's standpoint. A broad
consensus of administrative practice evolved by the Union Government in
response to an opinion tendered by the Attorney General on a reference made to
him at the instance of the Conference of All India Chairmen of Public Service
Commissions (prompted by divergent views expressed in a full Bench judgment of
the Calcutta High, Court) also goes against the appellant's position.
Technically, neither the appellant nor, for that matter, any citizen is bound
by administrative verdicts on questions of law and when the High Courts
disagree, the law becomes uncertain necessitating resolution of the conflict by
the Supreme Court. It is apt to remember the words of Rich, J"One of the
tasks of this Court is to preserve uniformity of determination. It may, be that
in performing the task the Court does not achieve the uniformity that was
desirable and what uniformity is achieved may be uniformity of error. However
in that event it is at least uniformity".(1) Moreover, in a Government of
laws like ours, the last court has the last word on a given law, it being
permissible to the Legislature, subject to constitutional limitations, to amend
the law, if necessary. The question in the present case being one of general
public importance has to be decided by this Court silencing the present and
potential disputes and laying down a binding rule for the whole country.
Counsel for the appellant strenuously
contends that there is high policy animating the provisions, which limit the
official life of a Member of the Public Service Commission to a significantly
short term of six years coupled with an almost blanket ban on the holding (1)
Waghorn v. Waghorn, 65 Commw. L. R. 239, 293 (1942).
592 of other office or taking up of other
employment under Government on ceasing to be a Member. Before, we focus on the
fasciculus of Articles 316 to 319 to assess the force of this and other
submissions, two basic questions fall to be considered. Is there any public
policy of great moment behind these Articles and if so, what is it ? Secondly,
assuming its existence and importance, could this Court, while interpreting the
provisions of the Constitution, listen to such extrinsic voices, however
natural logical and persuasive or be guided by the olden rule of grammatical
construction which treats the text of the statute as a sort of forensic
sound-proof room ? The working life, of an Indian official in administration
can easily be, and is, several times the six short years granted to a Public
Service Commission Member under Art.
316(2). Further employment in public service
is also not unusual for superannuated officers, particularly at the higher
echelons. And yet there is substantial, although not total, prohibition of
subsequent employment in public service of Commission Members written into the
Constitution by Art. 319. The learned counsel rightly stresses that the Public
Service Commission has vast powers of recruitment of candidates for an immense
and increasing host of Government posts which in a country with considerable
unemployment are prom to be abused if too close and too long a familiarity with
certain sectors were to be established. The prospect and peril of the
Executive, tempting with renewals of membership to influence the incumbents may
corrupt that institution, which must zealously be kept above suspicion.
This is the reason detre of the narrow period
prescribed by Art. 316(2), the taboo on reappointment in Art. 316(3) and on
taking up of any Government service clamped down by Art.
319. This view gains strength from the
proceedings of the Constituent Assembly, particularly the speech of Dr.
Ambedkar. Maybe there is plausibility in the
point that the three limitations on the office of membership (made a shade more
rigorous in the case of chairmanship) were directed towards obviation of abuse.
Even so, is that a dominant concern of court in the interpretation of the
statute or altogether irrelevant? Are Constituent Assembly Debates and objects
in the mind of lawmakers put out of the judicial area of vision by the
classical exclusionary rules which are part of our legal heritage from the
British? Anglo-American jurisprudence, unlike other systems. has generally
frowned upon the use of parliamentary debates and press discussions as throwing
light upon the meaning of statutory provisions. Willes, J. in Miller v.
Tayler,(1), stated that the sense and meaning of an Act of Parliament must be
collected from what it says when passed into law, and not from the history of
changes it underwent in the House where it took its rise. That history is not
known to the other House or to the Sovereign. In Assam Railways and Trading Co.
Ltd. v. I.R.C.,(2) Lord Writ in the Privy Council said:
"It is clear that the language of a
Minister of the Crown in proposing in Parliament a measure which eventually
becomes law is inadmissible and the report of commissioners (1)  4 Burr,
(2)  A. C. 445 at p. 458.
593 is even more removed from value as
evidence of intention, because it does not follow that their recommendations
The rule of grammatical construction has been
accepted in India before and after Independence. In the State of
Travancore-Cochin and others v. Bombay Company Ltd., Alleppey,(1) Chief Justice
Patanjali Sastri delivering the judgment of the Court, said :"It remains
only to point out that the use made by the learned Judges below of the speeches
made by the members of the Constituent Assembly in the course, of the debates
on the draft Constitution is unwarranted. That this form of extrinsic aid to
the interpretation of statutes is not admissible, has been generally accepted
in England, and the same rule has been observed in the construction of Indian
statutes See Administrator General of Bengal v. Prem Lal Mullick, 22 nd. Appl.
107 (P.C.) at p. 118.
The reason behind the rule was explained by,
one of us in Gopalan v. Slate of Madras, (1.950) S.C.R. 88 thus :
"A speech made in the course of the
debate on a bill could at best be indicative of the subjective intent of the
speaker, but it could not reflect the inarticulate mental process lying behind
the majority vote which carried the, bill. Nor is it reasonable to assume that
the minds of all those legislators were in accord".
Or, is it is more tersely, put in an American
case"Those who did not speak may not have agreed with those who did; and
those who spoke might differ from each other-United States v. TransMissouri
Freight Association, (1897) 169 U.S.
290 at p. 318 (sic)".
This rule of exclusion has not always been
adhered to in America, and. sometimes distinction is made between using such
material to ascertain the purpose of a statute and using it for ascertaining
its meaning. It would seem that the rule is adopted in Canada and Australia-see
Craies on Statute Law, 5th Edn. p. 122 (pp. 368-9)".
In the American jurisdiction, a more natural
note has sometimes been struck. Mr. justice Frankfurter was of the view(2) that"If
the purpose of construction is the ascertainment of meaning, nothing that is
logically relevant should be excluded, and yet, the Rule of Exclusion, which is
generally followed in England, insists that, in interpreting statutes, the
proceedings in the Legislatures, including speeches delivered when the statute
was discussed and adopted, cannot be cited in courts".
(1) AIR 1952 S. C. 366.
(2) See reference in The Indian Parliament
and the Fundamental Rights-Tagore Law Lectures-Chapter VI. p. 141.
594 Crawford on Statutory Construction at
page 388 notes that"The judicial opinion on this point is certainly not
quite uniform and there are American decisions to the effect that the general
history of a statute and the various steps leading up to an enactment including
amendments or modifications of the original bill and reports of Legislative
Committees can be looked at for ascertaining the intention of the legislature
where it is in doubt; but they hold definitely that the legislative history is
inadmissible when there is no obscurity in the meaning of the statute".
The Rule of Exclusion has been criticised by
jurists as artificial. Ile trend of academic opinion and the practice in the
European system suggest that interpretation of a statute being an exercise in
the ascertainment of meaning, everything which is logically relevant should be
Recently, an eminent Indian jurist has
reviewed the legal position and expressed his agreement with Julius Stone and
Justice Frankfurter.(1) of course, nobody suggests that such extrinsic
materials should be decisive, but they must be admissible. Authorship and
interpretation must mutually illumine and interact. There is authority for the
proposition that resort may be had to these sources with great caution and only
when incongruities and ambiguities are to be resolved.(2) There is a strong
case for whittling down the Rule of Exclusion followed in the British courts
and for less apologetic reference to legislative proceedings and like materials
to read the meaning of the words of a statute. Where it is plain, the language
prevails, but where there is obscurity or lack of harmony with other provisions
and in other special circumstances, it may be legitimate to take external
assistance such as the object of the provisions, the mischief sought to be
remedied, the social context, the words of the authors and other allied
matters. The law of statutory construction is a strategic branch of
jurisprudence which must, it may be felt, respond to the great social changes
but a conclusive pronouncement on the particular point arising here need not
detain us because nothing, decisive as between the alternative interpretations
flows from a reliance on the Constituent Assembly proceedings or the broad
purposes of the statutory scheme.
A few excerpts from the drafting preludes to
the framing of the Constitution from the masterly study by B. Shiva Rao and
relevant quotes from a few important speeches in the House may be apposite and
illuminating. The Royal Commission on Superior Services in India, popularly
called the Lee Commission (1924) observed(3) "Wherever democratic
institutions exist, experience has shown that to secure an efficient civil
service it is essential to protect it as far as possible from political or
personal influences and give it that position of stability and security (1) The
Indian Parliament and the Fundamental Rights-Tagore Law LeCtures, p. 148.
(2) A. K. Gopalan v. State of Madras, AIR
1950 S. C. 27.
(3) The Framing of India's Constitution-A
Study, pp. 724-725.
595 which is vital to its successful working
as the impartial and efficient instrument by which governments, of whatever
political complexion, may give effect to their policies.
In countries where this principle has been
neglected, and where the "spoils system" has taken its place, an
inefficient and disorganised civil service has been the inevitable result and
corruption has been rampant".
As a result of these recommendations Public
Service Commissions were set up in the country with the objectives outlined by
the Lee Commission. B. Shiva Rao has drawn attention to the doings of the
drafting committee(1) ".... Santhanam, Ananthasayanam Ayyangar, Mrs.
Durgabai and T. T. Krishnamachari suggested
an amendment to lay down... that a member of a State Commission would on
retirement be ineligible, for any office other than the Chairman or a member of
the Union Commission or the Chairman of a State Commission. The principle of
this amendment was accepted by the Drafting Committee which incorporated it in
suitable terms in the revised draft of the article moved by Ambedkar in the
Constituent Assembly on August 22, 1949".
Dr. Ambedkar introducing the provisions spoke
(2) "Now I come to the other important matter relating to the employment
or eligibility for employment of the members of the Public Services
Commission-both the Union and State Public Services Commissions. Members will
see that according to article 285, clause (3), we have made both the Chairman
and the Members, of the Central Public Services Commission as well as the
Chairman of the State Commission and the members of the State Commission,
ineligible for reappointment to the same posts : that is to say, once a term of
office of a Chairman and Member is over, whether he is a Chairman of the Union
Commission or the Chairman of a State Commission we have said that he shall not
be reappointed. I think that is a very salutary provision, because any hope
that might be held out for reappointment, or continuation in the same
appointment, may act as a sort of temptation which may induce the Member not to
act with the same impartiality that he is expected to act in discharging his
duties. Therefore, that is a fundamental bar which has been provided in the
Mr. Jaspat Roy Kapoor tabled several
amendments in support of which the spoke at length. One of the amendments,
which was turned down by the House but highlights portions of the area of the
present controversy and his speech in support thereof, may be excerpted(3) here
(1) The Framing of India's Constitution-A
(2) Constituent Assembly Debates (Vol. 9)
1949. p. 575.
(3) Constituent Assembly Debates (Vol. 9)
(1949) p. 58 1.
596 "That at the end of the proposed new
article 285-C, the following proviso be added Provided that a member's total
period of employment in the different public service commissionís shall not
exceed twelve Years".
"This amendment is more than important
than my other amendments. I was confirmed in this view from what I heard Dr.
Ambedkar say this morning in moving his own amendment. He said, while
explaining article 285 that a person shall not hold office as a Member of a
Public Service Commission for more than six years.
That of course is partially provided in
clause (3) of article But that clause refers only to the reemployment of a
person to that particular post. So far as the other posts are concerned, that
clause does not apply. So according to article 285-C a member of a Public
Service Commission can continue to be a Member of one or other of the public
service commissionís for any number of years. I say 'any, number of years'
because, for six years one can be a member of a State Public Service
Commission. Thereafter, for another six years, he can be the Chairman of a
State Public Service Commission. It comes to twelve years. Thereafter again he
"I submit this is not a satisfactory
state of affairs." Shri H. V. Kamath adverted, in his speech, to this
topic then he said(1) :
"It is agreed on all hands that the
permanent services play an important role in the administration of any country.
With the independence of our country the responsibilities of the services have
become more onerous. They may make or mar the efficiency of the machineryof
administration-call it steel frame or what you will-a machinery which is so
vital for the peace and progress of the country." "If a member of the
Public Service Commission is under the impression that by serving and kowtowing
to those in power he could get an office of profit under the Government of
India or in the Government of a State, then I am sure he would not be able to
discharge his functions impartially or with integrity".
"The public here have sometimes been
made to feel that family or group interests have been promoted at the expense
of the national; and to protect the Ministers against such a charge, it is
necessary that the Public Service Commissionís must be kept completely
independent of the executive.. . " .lm0 From these parliamentary
proceedings the focal point of constitutional vigilance becomes manifest. An
indefinite term of office and frequent renewals for any, incumbent in the same
State or in the Union linked up with tendencies of superannuating officials to
prospect (1) Constituent Assembly Debates (Vol. 9) (1949) pp. 586, 589.
597 for post-retirement posts are fraught
with possible patronage and interference with the purity of the Commission's
functioning and should be prevented by legal interdict. Art. 316(2) sets a
limit of six years for the office of a Member of a Public Service Commission
and an outer limit of 60 years of age (65 in the case of the Union Public
Service Commission). There is an express bar on reappointment on the expiration
of the first term Art.
316(2). There is a further prohibition
against the, securing of any State employment by Members of the Commission on
ceasing to be such Members, subject to a few exceptions (Art. 319). if the argument
of the appellant were to be accepted. a Member, be he Chairman or not, or one
or the other in succession, will get a total term of six years only. That is to
say', even in the middle of his term as Member, if he is appointed Chairman, he
wilt get only a run of six years to serve from the date he became an ordinary
Member. On the other hand, if the rival contention of the respondent were to
prevail, in the case of a Member of a State Public Service Commission, there is
a possibility of his getting a maximum of six years as ordinary Member and
another six years as Chairman of the Commission in the Same State. of course,
we are not concerned with the prospect of appointments in other States as the
mischief sought to be prevented is the possibility, of abuse by too long a
ten-are in the same State. The situation in which a Member may thus enjoy a
twelve-year term is so rare and, perhaps, may fall to the good fortune of only
a few exceedingly good Members and, indeed, anything between six to twelve
years may not be so very long in the effective life of a public servant-that
the apprehension of the object of a brief term being frustrated does not
disturb us. In this context, it is reassuring to note that in twelve states and
the Union there have been, as disclosed by Ext. 'G', only two instances beyond
eight years of tenure and only 19 cases where more than a six year term is seen
to have been obtained. May be Ext. 'G' is not exhaustive, and incidentally it
indicates the practice which has prevailed in the country during the last over
two decades of reading Art. 319(d) as, enabling a fresh term of office from the
date of appointment as Chairman. it is clear that though mere practice cannot
legitimise what is illegal it contradicts the consternation raised by the
appellant of likely misuse of power. In the last resort the menace to purity of
these high offices comes as much from dubious pressures and patronage as from
other causes and where the highest seats of power do not guard against these
evils, no constitution, no law, no court can save probity in Administration. We
cannot assent to the appellants argument of fear.
Nor is this question of law res integra. The
Calcutta High Court had considered it in a Full Bench decision reported in AIR
1966 Cal. 290. The majority view was that the term of office of six years was
to be computed from the date of the appointment as Member of the commission and
even if, in midstream he was made Chairman. time ran out finally at the end of
the first six years. The minority opinion handed in by Mitter, J. took a
contrary view based on an harmonious reading of Arts. 316 and 319 reaching the
result that a Member appointed as Chairman inaugurates a new term from the
later date. The Mysore High Court was confronted with this question 598 in Writ
petitions Nos. 6492, 5031 and 3758 of 1969. There the challenge to the validity
of the Chairman's continuance in office was made by certain disappointed
applicants for the post of District Educational officer. The High Court
followed the minority view of Mitter, J. and the respondent in this appeal has
produced a copy of the Mysore Judgment as Ext. 'B' along with his Writ Petition
since the ruling has not been reported. The Orissa High Court also fell in line
with Mysore, dissenting from the majority judgment in the Calcutta case. That
decision, reported in AIR 1970 Orissa 205, reads into the appointment of a
Member as Chairman an ipso facto cessation of his former office as Member when
he enters upon the duties of his new office, and thus seeks to reconcile Art.
316 with Art. 319. The High Court of Patna responded to this issue in a like
manner in a judgment rendered in C.W.J.C. 1997 of 1970 (reproduced at pages 54
61. of vol. II of the paper-book). It may be
noticed that a special leave Petition against this judgment was dismissed in
line bythe Supreme Court (the said order is Ext. 'C' in the writ petition).
It now remains to understand the ratio of
those decisions in the light of the anatomy of the constitutional scheme
contained in Arts. 316 to 319. At this stage we may read Arts. 316, 317 and 319
in extenso :
316 (1) Appointment and terms of office of
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 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.
(1A) 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 bold office for a term of six years from the date on which 599 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 years, whichever is earlier :
Provided that(a) 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;
(b) 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.
Removal and suspension of a Member of a
Public Service Commission.
317(1) Subject to the provisions of clause
(3), the Chairman or any other member of a Public Service ,Commission shall only
be removed from his office by order of the President on the ground of mis behaviour
after the Supreme Court, on reference being made to it by the President, has,
on inquiry held in accordance with the procedure prescribed in that behalf
under article 145, reported that the Chairman or such other member, as the case
may be, ought on any such ground to be removed.
(2) The President, in the case of the Union
Commission or a Joint Commission, and the Governor in the case of a State
Commission, may suspend from office the Chairman or any other member of the
Commission in respect of whom a reference has been made to the Supreme Court
under clause (1) until the President has passed orders on receipt of the report
of the Supreme Court on such reference.
(3) Notwithstanding anything in clause (1),
the President may by order remove from office the Chairman or any other member
of a Public Service Commission if the Chairman or such other member, as the
case may be(a) is adjudged an insolvent; or (b) engages during his term of
office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office; or 600 (c) is,
in the opinion of the President, unfit to continue in office by, reason of
infirmity of mind or body.
(4) It the Chairman or any other member of a
Public Service Commission is or becomes in any way concerned or interested in
any contract or agreement made by or on behalf of the, Government of India or
the Government of a State or participates in any way in the profit thereof or
in any benefit or emolument arising there from otherwise than as a member and
in common with the other members of an incorporated company', he shall, for the
purposes of clause (1), be deemed to be guilty of misbehaviour.
Prohibition as to the holding of office by
members of Commission on ceasing to be such members.
319. On ceasing to hold office(a) 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;
(b) 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;
(c) 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;
(d) 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.
It is obvious from the language of the
articles, admitted by both sides and accepted by all the decisions that a
Chairman also is a Member. The appellant's argument is that Art.
316(2) fixes a term of office of six years
for a member, who ex hypothesi includes a Chairman, and so the incumbent, be he
member simpliciter or 601 member-cum-Chairman or for part of the period member
and later Chairman, cannot exceed the legal span of six years in all,
membership being a common denominator covering both offices. The framers have
taken care to limit the life of member to a term of six years. And wherever
(unlike in Art.
316(2) distinct treatment for the two offices
is intended, clear language separately dealing with them, or by making
references, has been used, as is so evident from Arts. 316 (1A), 317 and 319).
To fortify the reasoning, reliance is placed on Art., 3 61 (3) which places an
embargo on reappointment on expiry, of the term of office of member (which
expression covers Chairman). A larger-than-six-year term by taking on Chairmanship
to membership would violate sub-art. 2 and subvert sub-art. 3 of Art. 316.,
runs the submission. So presented, the' argument seems impressive.
But this apparent tenor gets a severe jolt
when we turn to Art. 319(1) (d), for, if full credit were to be given to the
opening words, "on ceasing to hold office" a member of a Public
Service Commission is declared to be eligible for appointment as its: Chairman
at the expiration of his sixyear term as ordinary member. A member ceased to
hold office when six years of service are over and remotely when he is removed
for infirmities (Art. 317). To deny this effect to the provision, which is an
integral part of the scheme, and to confine its operation to recondite
instances of insolvents, delinquents and imbeciles dealt with in Art.
317 is to argue Art. 319 into a reductio ad
A closer probe into the key Articles 316 and
319 informed by the brooding presence of a constitutional purpose behind them,
may now be undertaken. A subject-wise dichotomy suggests that Art. 316 deals
with the appointment of the Chairman and members of the Commission, their term
of office and their ineligibility for re-appointment, while Art. 319 relates to
a different topic viz., the prohibition, with narrow exceptions, against further
employment in State service. Concern for purity of the office and vulnerability
to abuse of powers are writ large on these provisions. Even so, a few legal
ideas, pervading the articles will dissolve the difficulties conjured up based
On Art. 31.6(2) and (3).
Let us itemise them.
(1) A Chairman is also a member, as the very
first words of Art. 316 indicate.
(2) Nevertheless, the office of member is
different from that of Chairman and so also the duties attached to each, as is
eloquently evident from Art. 316(1A).
Thus while both are members, they hold
Sub-Art. (2) sanctions the holding of office
by, a: member for six years "from the date on which he enters upon his
office" which is signified by his entering 'on the duties thereof', to adopt
the language of (1A). An office, as is thus self-evident, has duties and a
member simpliciter has certain duties while a Chairman has other duties of.
The offices are different though both the
holders are generally members. The Prescription of the terminus a quo in (2) is
'from the date on which he enters upon his office' which, in the case of a
Chairman 602 appointed directly as such or originally as member and later
elevated as Chairman, begins when he starts functioning as Chairman. So far is
Article 316(3) neatly fits in and indeed the
draftsman has perspicaciously focussed attention here on the office of a person
(as distinct from membership) and the incumbent's ineligibility to
reappointment to that office. The cardinal point is the identity of the office
and the injunction is against reappointment to that particular office. A member
can fill one of two offices-as an ordinary member ,or as a member-Chairman and
the disability for reappointment attaches to the specific office. The distinction
is fine but real. No member who holds the office of just a member pure and
simple shall' be re-appointed to that office i.e.to the office of member pure
Ind simple. The offices being different it is semantically wrong to describe
the appointment of a member to the office of Chairman as reappointment. To
re-appoint to an office predicates the previous holding of that identical
office. Re-, as a prefix has the sense of 'again'. it follows straight from
this that an ordinary member when elevated to the higher office of Chairman is
not reappointed and does not contravene Art. 316(2) or (3) even if it be on he
full course of six years of the office of ordinary member having run out.
Now let us study the ambit and limitations of
Art. 319. It primarily enumerates the prohibitions attached to the holders of
offices of Chairman and member of Public Service Commissions but carves ,out a
few 'savings' to the 'dents'.
We are directly concerned with sub-cl. (d)
which bars a member from taking up employment under Government but expressly
declares, by way of exception, eligibility for appointment "as the
Chairman of that or any other State Public Service Commission", an ceasing
to hold office as member (See the careful accent on office and appointment without
the re). The fair meaning of this provision is that a member of Public Service
Commission of a State on ceasing to hold office as such is eligible for
appointment as Chairman of that Commission itself. Ordinarily when a member has
run out his term under Art. 316(2), he ceases to hold office. Art. 316(2)
states that a member shall hold office for a term of six years which means that
on the expiration of that period he ceases to hold office. So the normal way a
member ceases to hold office is by his six-year term spending itself out (or by
his crossing the age bar of 60 or 65 as the case may be). Logically, therefore,
319 means that a member on ceasing to hold
office, as a result of his six-year term expiring, shall be eligible for
appointment as Chairman of the same Commission. There is no contravention of
Art. 316(3) which prevents reappointment to the same office. In the present
case, the office of member is different from the office of the Chairman and so
there is no re-appointment to that office when a member is made Chairman.
Similarly, Art. 316(2) is not breached because there is a six-year term for
each office. The counter argument on the basis of Art. 316(2) and (3) fails to
explain Art. 319 (1)(d) which expressly authorises appointment of a member as 603
Chairman on ceasing to hold office. The very strained argument that the
cessation contemplated is not the straightforward category of persons whose
six-year term has expired, but the condemned and recondite category covered by
Art. 317(3) is too jejune for judicial acceptance. For one thing it is
extraordinary to think that persons covered by Art. 317(3) will at all be
considered for appointment to a higher post of Chairman. That sub-Article
speaks of removal of a member because of insolvency or objectionable engagement
in paid employment outside the duties of his office or ineffectiveness to
continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body. The argument is only
to be mentioned to be rejected and it is hardly fair to the framers of the
Constitution to think that they would have contemplated such unworthies to be
appointed to higher posts by a special provision under Art. 319 while the whole
purpose of that Article is to maintain purity in service by prohibiting
temptation for future offices or employment.
The learned Advocate General urged that Art.
316(2) would be stultified by the interpretation we adopt of Art. 319. If a
member can be appointed as Chairman on ceasing to hold office under Art. 316
(2), he could as well be appointed so not merely when his six-year term has
expired but also after he has attained the age of sixty years. There is a
fallacy in this submission. which will be apparent on a careful reading of Art.
316(2). That sub-article says that a member shall hold office for six years or
until he attains sixty years, whichever is earlier. When an ordinary member is
appointed chairman by virtue of the permission written into Art. 319(d), what
really happens is that the incumbent takes hold of a new office, namely, that
of Chairman. He is a member all the same, as we have earlier seen. This
member-cum-Chairman in terms of Art. 316(2) shall hold office, which in this
case means his new office, for a term of six years or until he attains the age
of sixty years. If he is appointed Chairman 'past sixty, the appointment will
be still-born because by the mandate of Art. 316(2) he shall hold office only
until he attains the age of superannuation.
This date having already transpired, he
cannot hold the office at all.
Another conundrum raised is as to how when an
ordinary member in the course of the six-year period is appointed Chairman we
can read into such an appointment as 'ceasing to hold office' as member this
being a requirement for Art. 319 to apply. The obvious answer is that when a
member holding the office of a member takes up the office of Chairman, he, by
necessary implication and co instante, relinquishes or ceases to hold his
office as ordinary member. It is inconceivable that he will hold two offices at
the same time and that will 604 also reduce the number of members of the Public
Service Commission. Therefore, logically and legally we may spell out an
automatic expiry of office of the member qua ordinary member on his assumption
of office qua Chairman.
Nor is the public mischief sought to be
avoided by Arts. 316 and 319 defeated by this interpretation. In any case they
cannot serve indefinitely, nor remain for anything like twentyfive or thirty
years which is the normal tenure of a Government servant.
The various rulings we have adverted to
earlier substantially adopt the arguments we have set out, although in some of
them there is marginal obscurity. The thrust of the reasoning accepted in all
but the Calcutta case substantially agrees with what has appealed to us. For
these reasons we dismiss the appeal with costs.
V.P.S. Appeal dismissed.