It is a permanent and regular committee which is constituted from time to time according to the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business. Parliamentary committees draw their authority from Article 105 (on privileges of Parliament members) and Article 118 (on Parliament’s authority to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business).
These committees play important role in ensuring legislature and executive efficiency and accountability in following ways-
The deliberations and scrutiny by committees ensure that Parliament is able to fulfil some of its constitutional obligations in a politically charged environment.
They also help in obtaining public feedback and building political consensus on contentious issues.
They help develop expertise in subjects, and enable consultation with independent experts and stakeholders.
The committees perform their functions without the cloud of political positioning and populist opinion.
These committees allow the views of diverse stakeholders.
They function through the year.
They also offer an opportunity for detailed scrutiny of bills being piloted by the government.
They increase the efficiency and expertise of Parliament.
Their reports allow for informed debate in Parliament.
The NCRWC pointed out some shortcomings of the committees:
(a) low attendance of MPs at meetings;
(b) too many ministries under a committee;
(c) norms not followed by most political parties while nominating MPs to committees;
(d) the constitution of DRSCs for a year leaves very little time for specialisations.
In addition to this, after the formation of the 17th Lok Sabha, parliamentary standing committees have not been constituted as consultations among parties are still under way.
Parliamentary committees don’t have dedicated subject-wise research support available. The knowledge gap is partially bridged by expert testimony from government and other stakeholders.
Their work could be made more effective if the committees had full-time, sector- specific research staff.
The national commission to review the working of the Constitution has recommended that in order to strengthen the committee system, research support should be made available to them.
Currently, the rules of Parliament don’t require every bill to be referred to a parliamentary committee for scrutiny. While this allows the government greater flexibility and the ability to speed up legislative business, it comes at the cost of ineffective scrutiny by the highest law-making body.
Mandatory scrutiny of all bills by parliamentary committees would ensure better planning of legislative business.
Parliamentary committees increase the efficiency, expertise of Parliament and act as check and balance which must be constituted at the earliest.