Spoils System, A System Discouraging Merit Based Selection To Public Administration.
Post on 12,September 2017   5:00 AM
By - PolyEyes Staff
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It is also called patronage system. As per this system, a winning political party rewards its campaign workers and supporters by appointing them to government posts or by other favour. Recently 11 appointments made by the State Governor to the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission were set aside by the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court (SC).

Government needs to prevent this spoils system by making the institutions independent of political interference. This will help improve administrative efficiency and maximize governance by giving emphasis on merit system.

Recent scenario:

The Madras HC observed that appointments were made in a hurry and the process was suspicious since  selection of chairperson of Tamil Nadu Commission for Protection of Child Rights created a legal controversy as the qualifications for the post was not met, thus violating the law.

In Ramashankar Raghuvanshi case (1983), SC observed that employment based on the basis of past political loyalties violates Article 14 and 16 of the constitution.

What does the Article 14 and Article 16 say?

Article 14: State shall not deny equality before law or equal protection of law on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

Article 16: State shall not deny equality of opportunity in employment for public employment on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, and place of birth, residence or any of them.

In Upendra Narayan Singh case (2009), SC observed that the Public Service Commissions are becoming victims of spoils system. Even appointments and exits of Governors with changes in political dynamics is an indication of a shift towards spoils system in constitutional posts.

Spoils system creates a conflict of interest in the appointee. In absence of any merit based selection, it promotes administrative inefficiency and unnecessary conflict, fueling bureaucratic partiality and political nepotism. It does create a lack of transparency and accountability in the public administration.

Article 320 resulted in the establishment of Public Service Commissions to frame service rules and conditions for selection of meritorious candidates to civil services. Kerala government has recently decided to have a dedicated law to prevent nepotism in government appointments

Concluding Remark: 2nd ARC recommends laying down certain principles for administrative recruitments to avoid spoils system. These principles revolve around a well- defined merit- based procedure for recruitment to all government jobs and wide publicity and open competition for recruitment to all posts. This would minimize discretion in the recruitment process. The selection criteria is based primarily on the written examination or on performance in existing board or university examination with minimum weight given to interview.

These principles can also be included in a Civil Services Bill. Moreover the selection can be done by an independent civil services board at state level with the appointment made by a committee constituted by Chief Minister, Judge etc. who are closely knitted in the executive and legislative scenario of the nation but not political.

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