Center consults UPSC on ‘lateral entry’ for private citizens

The central government has consulted the Union Public Service Commission on the plan to recruit private citizens into the higher judiciary.

The UPSC is tasked with recruiting officer-level employees of the Union.

The center seems to be trying to clarify whether there is a legal requirement to involve the UPSC the latest move.

“Advice of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has been sought on whether the posts to be filled up through lateral entry would be exempted from consultation with the UPSC under the relevant constitutional provisions,” said Jitendra Singh, minister of state for personnel.

Two months ago, the government said it would recruit citizens with relevant experience and a desire to serve the country as ‘joint secretaries’ — high-level bureaucrats who oversee the implementation of government programs and schemes.

Typically, officer-level appointments are done by the UPSC through a written test and an interview.

In this case, the government seems to want to conduct the hiring process in-house.

The appointments are seen as an attempt to infuse subject experts into the government at higher levels. At present all such positions are filled by career bureaucrats, typically from the Indian Administrative Service.

The current system of using IAS officials to serve in all positions — including those that require highly specialized knowledge such as that of the TRAI chairman — has been criticized as being sub-optimal.

However, the move to bring in ‘fresh blood’ from the outside has also aroused concerns about possible partiality and bias in the selection of these candidates.

India has, in the past, brought in members of the public into high-profile roles, as was seen in the case of Nandan Nilekani, who was brought in by the Congress-led government to implement the UID scheme.