Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Moving away from parliamentary scrutiny

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various committees and their roles.

Mains level : Paper 2- Role of parliamentary committees

The article discusses the important role played by the various committees and their significance.

Committee system for legislative scrutiny

  • Over the years, the Indian Parliament has increasingly adopted the committee system as did the other democracies in the world.
  • This helped in housekeeping, to enhance the efficacy of the House to cope with the technical issues confronting it and to feel the public pulse.
  • But the committee approach also helped to guard its turf and keep it abreast to exercise accountability on the government.

Important role played by the committees

  • Committees are the guardians of the autonomy of the House: consider the role of committees of scrutiny and oversight.
  • In the discharge of their mandate, the committee can solicit expert advice and elicit public opinion.
  • Besides the standing committees, the Houses of Parliament set up, from time to time, ad hoc committees to enquire and report on specific subjects which include Select Committees of a House or Joint Select Committees of both the Houses.
  • Departmentally-related Standing Committees (DRSCs)  were envisaged to be the face of Parliament in a set of inter-related departments and ministries.

Issues

  • Committees of scrutiny and advice, both standing and ad hoc, have been confined to the margins or left in the lurch in the last few years.
  • While 60% of the Bills in the 14th Lok Sabha and 71% in the 15th Lok Sabha were wetted by the DRSCs concerned, this proportion came down to 27% in the 16th Lok Sabha.
  • The government has shown extreme reluctance to refer Bills to Select Committees of the Houses or Joint Parliamentary Committees.

Conclusion

The government must not forget that the primary role of Parliament is deliberation, discussion and reconsideration, the hallmarks of democratic institutions, and not a platform that endorses decisions already arrived at.


Back2Bascis: Parliamentary Committees

Broadly, they are classified into two categories — standing committees and ad hoc committees.

1) Standing Committees

  • As the name suggests, these committees cover all the ministries and departments of the Government of India.
  • Standing committees are more permanent in nature, and are constituted from time to time in pursuance of the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
  • The standing committees are further divided into financial committees and departmentally-related standing committees (DRSCs).
  • There are 24 DRSCs in total — 16 from Lok Sabha and 8 from the Rajya Sabha.
  • Financial committees are of three kinds — the estimates committee, the public accounts committee and the committee on public undertakings.

2) Ad hoc committees

  • Ad hoc committees are appointed for a specific purpose and they cease to exist after they finish the task assigned to them and submit a report.
  • These include advisory committees and inquiry committees.
  • Advisory committees include select and joint committees on bills.
  • Inquiry committees are constituted to inquire into a specific issue and report on it.
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