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Lee Commission


Lee Commission was formed in 1923 under the chairmanship of Lord Lee taking equal number of Indian and British members with the purpose of studying the racial composition of the superior public service of the government of India. The commission examined the recommendations of the islington commission report (1912) and reviewed the existing position of two groups of services the All-India Services and the Central Services. The Provincial Services were not considered as they had already come under the control of the provincial governments.

The commission in its report of 1924 divided the All-India Services into two groups. The first group included services operating in transferred fields, ie, higher education (IES), agriculture, veterinary, engineering (roads and buildings branch) and the medical services. These services were provincialised and their recruitment was vested in the provincial governments. This was done in accordance with the spirits of the policy of montagu-chelmsford reforms (1919) that gave special emphasis on the problem of Indianising higher services. The services operating in reserved fields were in the second group. The commission suggested that the secretary of state for india should, for the present, retain his power of appointment and control of these services - the Indian Civil Service, the Indian Police Service, the Indian Services of Engineers (Irrigation Branch) and the Indian Forest Service. These four services were to be retained on All-India basis.

The Montagu-Chelmsford reforms proposed that one-third of total appointments to higher posts should go to Indians and thus the Islington Commission that had recommended only 25 percent posts for Indians became a dead letter. While this situation was developing within the services one of the major grievances of Indians regarding the holding of simultaneous examinations in India was redressed. Simultaneous examinations were instituted in London and New Delhi in 1922. By this time owing to political developments, many uncertainties arose and there was a shortage of British entrants.

In this background the Lee Commission's main recommendation was that 20 percent of the superior posts should be filled by promotions from provincial civil services and of the remaining 80 percent future entrants, 40 percent should be British and 40 percent Indians directly recruited. Owing to increase in the cost of living the civil servants for quite sometime were demanding an increase of their salaries and improvements of other conditions of services. In this regard the commission decided neither to reduce the basic pay of the service nor to increase it all round, but it proposed to give substantial benefits to the European officers in the shape of various allowances. The European civil servants, however, considered the commission's recommendations quite unsatisfactory. Some of them viewed that the commission's report was very liberal towards Indianisation of higher administrations. The Indian political circle, on the contrary, felt that the commission's report had been too partial and liberal to the European civil servants. The Indian legislature criticised the proposed increase in the emoluments of the European civil servants in the shape of overseas pay and other allowances.

On the whole, the Indians were not satisfied with the rate of Indianisation of ICS and other superior services. The next important commission that examined the problems on the superior services of India after the Lee Commission was the indian statutory commission of 1930. By 1947 more than 50 percent of about 1000 civil service personnel were Indians, many with long experience and holding high positions. [ABM Mahmood]