Civil Services of India

The Civil Services refer to the career bureaucrats who are the permanent executive branch of the Republic of India. The civil service system is the backbone of the administrative machinery of the country.[1][2]

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

In India's parliamentary democracy, the ultimate responsibility for running the administration rests with the people's elected representatives—cabinet ministers. But a handful of ministers cannot be expected to deal personally with the manifold problems of modern administration. Thus the ministers lay down the policy and it is for the civil servants, who serve at the pleasure of the President of India, to carry it out. However, Article 311 of the constitution protects them from politically motivated or vindictive action.

Civil servants are employees of the Government of India or of the states, but not all employees of the Government are civil servants. As of 2010, there were 6.4 million government employees in India but fewer than 50,000 civil servants to administer them.[3]

Civil servants in a personal capacity are paid from the Civil List. Senior civil servants may be called to account by Parliament. The civil service system in India is rank-based and does not follow the tenets of the position-based civil services.[2]

The Government of India has also approved the formation of two new cadres of civil servants: the Indian Skill Development Service (2015)[4][5] and the Indian Enterprise Development Service (2016).[6]


The present civil services of India are mainly based on the pattern of the former Indian Civil Service of British India. Warren Hastings laid the foundation of civil service and Charles Cornwallis reformed, modernised, and rationalised it. Hence, Charles Cornwallis is known as 'the father of civil service in India'.

Cornwallis introduced two divisions of the Indian Civil service—covenanted and uncovenanted. The covenanted civil service consisted of only Europeans (i.e., British personnel) occupying the higher posts in the government. The uncovenanted civil service was solely introduced to facilitate the entry of Indians at the lower rung of the administration.[8][9]

With the passing of the Government of India Act 1919, the Imperial Services headed by the Secretary of State for India were split into two—the All India Services and the Central Services.[10]

The All India and Central Services (Group A) were designated as Central Superior Services as early as 1924.[11] From 1924 to 1934, the administration of India consisted of 10 All India Services and 5 central departments, all under the control of the Secretary of State for India, and 3 central departments under joint Provincial and Imperial Control.[11]

Modern era

The present modern civil service was formed after the partition of India in 1947. It was Sardar Patel's vision that the civil service should strengthen cohesion and national unity. The values of integrity, impartiality, and merit remain the guiding principles of the Indian civil services.

By the early 21st century, especially in Indian media, Indian civil servants were regularly colloquially called 'babus' (as in 'the rule of babus'),[12] while Indian bureaucracy is called 'babudom'.[13][14][15]

The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, located in New Delhi, is unofficially the 'Ministry of Civil Services'. The Ministry is responsible for training, reforms, and pensions for the civil service system in India.

Constitutional provision for All India Services

The constitution under Article 312[16] gives authority to the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of Parliament) to set up new branches of the All India Services with a two-thirds majority vote. The Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, and Indian Forest Service have been established under this constitutional provision.[17]

Power, purpose, and responsibilities

The responsibility of the civil services is to run the administration of India. The country is managed through a number of central government agencies in accordance with policy directions from the ministries.

Among the members of the civil services are administrators in the central government and state government; emissaries in the foreign missions/embassies; tax collectors and revenue commissioners; civil service commissioned police officers; permanent representative(s) and employees in the United Nations and its agencies; and chairmen, managing directors, and full-time functional directors and members of the board of various public-sector undertakings, enterprises, corporations, banks, and financial institutions. Civil servants are employed to various agencies of India and can also be appointed as advisors, special duty officers, or private secretaries to ministers of the Union and the State Government.[18][19]

All appointments in the rank of Joint Secretary to Government of India and above, other major appointments, empanelment, and extension of tenure are done by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. Lower appointments are handled by the Civil Services Board.

Civil servants are the actual makers of Indian law and policy. They work on behalf of the elected government and cannot publicly show their disinterest or disapproval for it. It is mandatory for them to form certain rules and policies according to the government's views and interests. However, they cannot be removed by any state or central government, but can only be retired.


Head of the Civil Services

The highest ranking civil servant is the Cabinet Secretary. He is ex-officio Chairman of the Civil Services Board; the chief of the Indian Administrative Service and head of all civil services under the rules of business of the Government of India. He also holds the 11th position in the Order of Precedence of India.

The position holder is accountable for ensuring that the Civil Service is equipped with the skills and capability to meet the everyday challenges it faces and that civil servants work in a fair and decent environment.

Values and codes


A member of the civil service in discharge of his/her functions is to be guided by maintaining absolute integrity, allegiance to the constitution and the law of the nation, patriotism, national pride, devotion to duty, honesty, impartiality and transparency.[20]


The Government of India promotes values and a certain standard of ethics of requiring and facilitating every civil servant:[20]

  • To discharge official duty with responsibility, honesty, accountability and without discrimination.
  • To ensure effective management, leadership development and personal growth.
  • To avoid misuse of official position or information.
  • To serve as instruments of good governance and foster social economic development.


The Higher Civil Services of India can be classified into two types - the All India Services and the Central Civil Services (Group A). The recruits are university graduates (or above) selected through a rigorous system of examinations: Civil Services Examination, Engineering Services Examination, Combined Geo-Scientist and Geologist Examination, I.E.S./I.S.S. Examination, Combined Medical Services Examination, Central Armed Police Forces of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for Group A posts.

All India Services

All appointments to All India Civil Services are made by the President of India.

Central Services (Group A)

The Central Civil Services (Group A) are concerned with the administration of the Union Government.[21] All appointments to Central Civil Services (Group A) are made by the President of India.

  • Archaeological Service, Group 'A'
  • Border Roads Engineering Services
  • Botanical Survey of India, Group 'A'
  • Central Architects Service, Group 'A'
  • Central Engineering (Civil) Group 'A'
  • Central Engineering (Electrical and Mechanical) Group 'A'
  • Central Health Service, Group 'A'
  • Central Revenues Chemical Service, Group 'A'
  • Central Secretariat Service-

(a) Selection Grade (b) Grade I.

(a) Customs Branch (Indian Customs Service, Group 'A') (b) Central Excise Branch (Central Excise Service, Group 'A') (c) Income Tax Branch (Income Tax Service, Group 'A')

  • Indian Trade Service, Group 'A'
  • Indian Salt Service, Group 'A'
  • Mercantile Marine Training Ship Service, Group 'A'
  • Directorate General of Mines Safety, Group 'A'
  • Overseas Communications Service, Group 'A'
  • Survey of India, Group 'A'
  • Indian Telecommunication Service, Group 'A'
  • Zoological Survey of India, Group 'A'
  • Indian Ordnance Factories Service (IOFS)
  • Indian Ordnance Factories Heath Service (IOFHS)
  • Indian Frontier Administrative Service, Group 'A'

(a) Railways, Group 'A'

  • Indian Railway Accounts Service

  • Indian Railway Personnel Service
  • Indian Railway Service of Engineers
  • Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers
  • Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers
  • Indian Railway Service of Signal Engineers
  • Indian Railway Stores Service
  • Indian Railway Traffic Service
  • Indian Railway Medical Service
  • Railway Protection Force

(a) Grade I (b) Grade II

  • Central Legal Service (Grades I, II, III and IV)
  • Railway Inspectorate Service, Group 'A'
  • Indian Foreign Service, Branch (B) (erstwhile)-

(a) General Cadre, Grade I (b) General Cadre, Grade II

  • Delhi and Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Service, Grade I.
  • Delhi and Andaman and Nicobar Islands Police Service, Grade I.
  • Indian Inspection Service, Group 'A'
  • Indian Supply Service, Group 'A'
  • Central Information Service-

(a) Selection Grade (b) Senior Administrative Grade (c) Junior Administrative Grade (d) Grade I (e) Grade II

  • Indian Statistical Service
  • Indian Economic Service
  • Telegraph Traffic Service, Group 'A'
  • Central Water Engineering Service, Group 'A'
  • Central Power Engineering Service, Group 'A'
  • Indian Civil Accounts Service
  • Labour Officers of the Central Pool, Group 'A'
  • Central Engineering Service (Roads), Group 'A'
  • Indian Posts and Telegraphs Accounts and Finance Service, Group 'A'
  • Indian Broadcasting (Engineers) Service
  • Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Services (Group 'A')
  • Central Secretariat Official Language Service (Group 'A')

Central Services (Group B)

For Group B posts, the Combined Graduate Level Examination (CGLE) is conducted by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC).[lower-alpha 1][22] All appointments to Group B are made by the authorities specified by a general or special order of the President.

  • Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Services
  • Botanical Survey of India, Group 'B'
  • Central Electrical Engineering Service, Group 'B'
  • Central Engineering Service, Group 'B'
  • Central Excise Service, Group ‘B’
  • Central Health Service, Group ‘B’
  • Central Power Engineering Service, Group ‘B’
  • Central Secretariat Official Language Service, Group ‘B’
  • Central Secretariat Service, Group 'B' (Section and Assistant Section Grade officers only)
  • Central Secretariat Stenographers’ Service, (Grade I, Grade II and Selection Grade officers only)
  • Customs Appraisers Service, Group ‘B’- (Principal Appraisers and Head Appraisers)
  • Customs Preventive Service, Group ‘B’ – (Chief Inspectors)
  • Defence Secretariat Service
  • DANICS, Grade II
  • DANIPS, Grade II
  • Geological Survey of India, Group 'B'
  • Indian Foreign Service, Group ‘B’ - (General Cadre, Grade I and General Cadre, Grade II only)
  • Indian Posts and Telegraphs Accounts and Finance Service, Group ‘B’ Telecommunication Wing.
  • Indian Posts & Telegraphs Accounts & Finance Service, Postal Wing, Group ‘B’
  • Income Tax Service, Group ‘B’
  • Indian Salt Service, Group ‘B’
  • India Meteorological Service, Group ‘B'
  • Survey of India, Group 'B'
  • Postal Superintendents’ Service, Group ‘B’
  • Postmasters’ Service, Group ‘B’
  • Railway Board Secretariat Service, Group ‘B’
  • Telecommunication Engineering Service, Group ‘B’
  • Telegraphs Traffic Service, Group ‘B
  • Zoological Survey of India, Group 'B'

State Services (Group A)

The State Civil Services examinations and recruitment are conducted by the individual states public service commissions in India. These services are feeder services of All India Services. All appointments to State Services (Group A) are made by the Governors of States.

All State Judicial Services are completely group A service & as par with All India Services i.e., IAS. Their appointment made by Governor of respective states after the consultation / approval of the respective states High Courts.

  • Higher Judicial Service (HJS)
  • Provincial Civil Service-Judicial Branch (PCS-J)

All State Civil and Administrative Services in India above the rank of Deputy Collector are group A service. The officers of following services are later promoted to IAS.

  • Andhra Pradesh State Civil Service (Executive Branch)
  • Arunachal Pradesh Civil Service-Executive Branch (APCS)
  • Assam Civil Service (ACS)
  • Bihar Administrative Service (BAS)
  • Goa Civil Service (GCS)
  • State Administrative Service (SAS)
  • State Civil Service (SCS)
  • Gujarat Administrative Service (GAS)
  • Haryana Civil Service (HCS)
  • Himachal Pradesh Administrative Service (HPAS)
  • Jharkhand Administrative Service (JAS)
  • Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS)
  • Karnataka Administrative Service (KAS)

All State Police Services above the rank of Deputy SP are group A service. The officers of following services are later promoted to IPS.

  • Andhra Pradesh State Police Service (APPS)
  • Arunachal Pradesh Police Service (APPS)
  • Assam Police Service (APS)
  • Bihar Police Service (BPS)
  • Goa Police Service (GPS)
  • State Police Service (SPS)
  • State Police Service (SPS)
  • Gujarat Police Service (GPS)
  • Haryana Police Service (HPS)
  • Himachal Pradesh Police Service (HPPS)
  • Jharkhand Police Service (JPS)
  • Kashmir Police Service (KPS)
  • Karnataka State Police Service (KSPS)

State Services (Group B)

The state civil services (Group B) deal with subjects such as land revenue, agriculture, forests, education etc. The officers are recruited by different States through the respective State Public Service Commissions, and appointed by the Governor of that state.

Concerns and Reforms

As of 2011, in a duration of past three years over 450 chargesheets have been filed and a total of 943 cases are at different stages of investigation by CBI against civil servants.[25][26]

A study by the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, released in 2012, ranked and rated Indian bureaucracy as the worst in Asia with a 9.21 rating out of 10. According to the study, India's inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy was responsible for most of the complaints that business executive have about the country.[28][29][30] A paper prepared in 2012 by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions states that corruption is prevalent at all levels in civil services and it is institutionalised.[31][32] The bureaucracy, a self-serving elite clique of babus which works in silos and does not serve the national interest, focuses more on the process rather than the positive outcome, with a resistance to change mindset and an attitude of "elected politicians will be replaced after 5 years but we will continue to hold power for next 35 years", has become corrupt and inefficient where there are some deterences against the deliberate acts of corruption but there is no mechanism to punish the omission or deliberate inaptness.[33]

On 28 November 2011, the Department of Personnel and Training (DOPT) of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions created a proposal to retire and remove incompetent, inefficient and unproductive All India Service officers after 15 years of service, instead of tolerating them until their retirement. Former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian welcomed this move with caution, saying, "Periodical weeding out is very good. But the process to determine who needs to be prematurely retired should be fair and transparent. There is a possibility that even good officers may be targeted because of political reasons,". Former UPSC chairman PC Hota echoed his sentiments remarking that, "We need drastic remedies. The situation has become terrible. The other day an officer in Delhi was arrested for disproportionate assets of Rs.31.5 million. She is just a 2000-batch IAS officer with 11 years of service. But at the same time, the officers' service records should be analysed before a decision against him was taken".[34][35][36] The proposal has been accepted and rule 16(3) of the All India Services (death-cum-retirement benefits) Rules of 1958 was amended on 31 January 2012.[34][36][37]

In October 2013, the Supreme Court of India, in the case of TSR Subramanian & Ors vs Union of India & Ors [38] ordered both Government of India and State governments to ensure fixed tenure to civil servants. The court asked senior bureaucrats to write down the oral instructions from politicians so that a record would be kept of all the decisions. This judgement was seen on the similar lines of the Supreme Court's 2006 judgement in Prakash Singh case on police reforms.[39][40] The judgement was welcomed by various bureaucrats and the media who hoped that it will help in giving freedom and independence to the functioning of bureaucracy.[41][42]

"Much of the deterioration in the functioning of bureaucracy is due to political interference."

Justice K. S. Radhakrishnan and Justice P. C. Ghose, Supreme Court of India[41]

In 2016, the Ministry of Finance for the first time, dismissed 72 and prematurely retired another 33 Indian Revenue Service officers for non-performance and on disciplinary grounds.[43][44][45][46][47] In 2016, it was reported that Government of India has decided to empower common man to seek prosecution of corrupt IAS officers.[48] Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (DOPT) has accepted to receive requests from private persons seeking sanction for prosecution in respect of IAS officers without any proper proposal and supporting documents. [48] In 2019, Government of India dismissed 12 (IRS IT) and 15 (IRS Customs and Central Excise) officers for corruption and bribery charges.[49][50] In 2019, Department of Personnel and Training in Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions listed 284 Central Secretariat Service officers for performance audit by review panel headed by Cabinet Secretary of India.[51] From 2020-21, government will conduct common foundation course for all Group A services to counter the attitude of elite clique operating in silos.[33]

Civil Services Day

The Civil Service Day is celebrated on 21 April every year.[52] The purpose for this day is to rededicate and recommit themselves to the cause of the people. It is observed by all Civil Services. This day gives civil servants the opportunity for introspection and thinking about future strategies to deal with the challenges being posed by the changing times.[53]

On this occasion, all officers of Central and State Governments are honoured for excellence in public administration by the Prime Minister of India. The 'Prime Minister Award for Excellence in Public Administration' is presented in three categories. Under this scheme of awards instituted in 2006, all the officers individually or as group or as organisation are eligible.[53] The award includes a medal, scroll and a cash amount of 100,000 (US$1,400). In case of a group, the total award money is 500,000 (US$7,200) subject to a maximum of 100,000 (US$1,400) per person. For an organisation the cash amount is limited to 500,000 (US$7,200).[53]

See also


  1. Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (8 June 2011). "The civil service system". New Delhi: Government of India. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  2. United Nations Public Administration Network. "National Civil Service System in India : A Critical View" (PDF). Government of India. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  3. "2010 Civil Services Report: A Survey" (PDF). New Delhi: Government of India. 8 June 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 October 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  4. "Government nod to raise new Group-A civil service cadre". Retrieved 8 October 2011.
  5. "Govt approves formation of Indian Skill Development Service". Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  6. "Cabinet approves enterprise development cadre". Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  7. Chopra, P. N. (2003). A Comprehensive History of India, Volume 3. Sterling Publishers Pvt Ltd. ISBN 9788120725065.
  8. Meghna Sabharwal and Evan M. Berman. "Public Administration in South Asia: India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan (Public Administration and Public Policy)" (2013), ISBN 1439869111 (Online)
  9. "Civil Service". The British Library. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  10. Goel, S.L. Public Personnel Administration: Theory and Practice. Deep and Deep Publications, 2008. ISBN 9788176293952.
  11. Maheshwari, Shriram. Problems and Issues in Administrative Federalism. Allied Publishers. ISBN 9788170233428.
  12. "Yet to start work, Natgrid CEO highest paid babu". The Times of India. 23 August 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  13. Anand Parthasarathy (1–14 September 2001). "A barbed look at babudom". Frontline. Vol. 18 no. 18. Archived from the original on 9 November 2012. Bureaucracy knows no bounds...
  14. "PM Modi tightens screws, gives babudom a new rush hour". The Times of India. 2 September 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  15. "Babu". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  16. "Constitution of India, Article 312".
  17. "Official Government website".
  18. "Consolidated Instructions to the appointment of personal staff to Union Ministers" (PDF). Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 December 2014. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  19. "Why babus want to be private secys to ministers now". Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  20. Misra, P.K. (4 August 2010). "The Role of civil services in India (Standard Note: DOPT/Government of India)" (PDF). Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 April 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2011.
  22." Central Civil Service Group B - Government of India, 20 April 2020.
  23. "The Indian Administrative Service Meets Big Data". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  24. "IAS Reforms: Cleaning Rust From the Frame". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  25. "453 IAS,and other civil servants chargesheeted in last 3 yrs". Indian Express. New Delhi. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
  26. "Over 400 central officers booked in last 3 yrs". New Delhi: Zee News. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
  27. "Merit-based civil service will boost growth". The Hindu. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  28. "Indian bureaucrats worst in Asia, says PERC study". India Today. New Delhi. 12 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  29. "Indian bureaucracy rated worst in Asia". New Delhi: CNN-IBN. 11 January 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  30. "Indian bureaucracy rates worst in Asia: 2012". Deccan Herald. New Delhi. 11 January 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  31. Sharma, Aman (14 April 2012). "Federal Government paper admits corruption at all levels in civil services". India Today. New Delhi. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  32. "Background Paper for 2012 Civil Services Day: Discussions" (PDF). New Delhi: Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (India). 14 April 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 November 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  33. PM Modi attempts long-awaited overhaul in bureaucracy, Hindustan Times, 5 November 2019/.
  34. "Lazy and incompetent babus of the All India Services to retire early". India Today. New Delhi. 30 November 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  35. "Corruption taint may lead to compulsory retirement for babus". India Today. New Delhi. 21 April 2012. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
  36. "Proposal to retire incompetent officers after 15-year service". New Delhi: Rediff News. 30 November 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  37. "ssc institutes in gwalior". shiksha coach.
  38. "WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO(s). 82 OF 2011". Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  39. "Prakash Singh Case". Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  40. "SC asks states to file affidavit on police reforms". Hindustan Times. 16 October 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  41. "Supreme Court favours law to regulate transfer, posting of IAS officers". 31 October 2013. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  42. "SC to bureaucrats: Don't take oral instructions from netas". The Times Of India. 31 October 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  43. "For good governance, Finance Ministry fires 72 tax officers, retires 33 more". Business Standard. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  44. "Government takes strict action against defaulting/non performing tax officials/officers". Press Information Bureau. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  45. "Absent for years, government sacks 11 IRS officers". The Indian Express. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  46. "108 IRS officers under CBI probe for alleged corruption: Government". The Economic Times. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  47. "CBI seizes 2 crore in old currency from city residence of IRS officer". The Times of India. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  48. "Centre to empower common man to punish corrupt babus". The Economic Times. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  49. "Govt sacks 12 senior I-T officers including a senior officer for corruption". Business Standard. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  50. "Govt Sacks 15 Senior Customs, Central Excise Officers Over Corruption, Bribery Charges". Outlook. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  51. "Modi govt to retire Central Secretariat Service officers now, 284 of them under scanner". The Print. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  52. "Civil Services Day". New Delhi: Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. 8 June 2011. Archived from the original on 27 November 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  53. "The Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Public Administration Award Scheme" (PDF). New Delhi: Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. 8 June 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 April 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  1. The Schedule of Central Civil Services for Group 'B'. The complete list as per Department of Personnel & Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Govt. of India


All India Civil Services

Central Civil Services


Governance in India

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