Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Role of Parliamentary Committees


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Parliamentary Committees

Mains level: Legislative consultation

Central idea: This article discusses the importance and functions of parliamentary committees in India.

Why in news?

  • As little as 25% of the Bills introduced were referred to committees in the 16th Lok Sabha, as compared to 71% and 60% in the 15th and 14th Lok Sabha respectively.
  • This represents a declining trend of national legislation being subjected to expert scrutiny.

What is a Parliamentary Committee?

  • A committee appointed or elected by the House or nominated by the Speaker that works under the direction of the Speaker and presents its report to the House or the Speaker.
  • Two kinds of committees: Standing Committees and Ad hoc Committees.

(1) Standing Committees

  • Permanent and regular committees 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 work of these Committees is of continuous nature.
  • Examples include the Financial Committees and DRSCs.

(2) Ad hoc Committees

  • Appointed for a specific purpose and cease to exist when they finish the task assigned to them and submit a report.
  • The principal Ad hoc Committees are the Select and Joint Committees on Bills.
  • Examples include the Railway Convention Committee and Joint Committee on Food Management in Parliament House Complex.

Why need Parliamentary Committee?

  • Parliament scrutinizes legislative proposals (Bills) in two ways: discussion on the floor of the two Houses and referring the Bill to a parliamentary committee.
  • Since Parliament meets for 70 to 80 days in a year, there is not enough time to discuss every Bill in detail on the floor of the House.

Role of the committee in the passage of a Bill

  • The debate in the house is mostly political and does not go into the technical details of a legislative proposal.
  • Referring a Bill to a parliamentary committee takes care of the legislative infirmity of debate on the floor of the House.
  • However, referring Bills to parliamentary committees is not mandatory.

What is a Select Committee?

  • India’s Parliament has multiple types of committees.
  • Departmentally related Standing Committees focus on the working of different ministries.
  • Each committee has 31 MPs, 21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha.
  • The main purpose is to ensure the accountability of Government to Parliament through a more detailed consideration of measures in these committees.

When does a committee examine a Bill?

  • Bills can reach a committee through a recommendation by the minister piloting the Bill or the presiding officer of the House.

What happens when a Bill goes to a Committee?

  • The committee undertakes a detailed examination of the Bill, inviting comments and suggestions from experts, stakeholders and citizens.
  • The government also appears before the committee to present its viewpoint.
  • The committee’s report makes suggestions for strengthening the Bill.
  • While the committee is deliberating on a Bill, there is a pause in its legislative journey.
  • The Bill can only progress in Parliament after the committee has submitted its report.

What happens after the report?

  • The report of the committee is of a recommendatory nature.
  • The government can choose to accept or reject its recommendations.
  • Select Committees and JPCs have an added advantage of including their version of the Bill in the report.
  • The minister in charge of that particular Bill can move for the committee’s version of the Bill to be discussed and passed in the House.

Importance of these Committees

  • Parliamentary committees analyze the impact that a specific piece of legislation may have on governance indicators.
  • It recommends the government to take an ‘Action Taken’ report for the House to judge the progress made on the suggestions of the committee.
  • Though committee reports aren’t binding on the government, it helps the legislature ensure oversight of the executive.


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