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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Indian Polity #11

PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES IN INDIA

Overview

  • Since Parliament needs to perform substantial functions in limited time, it cannot go into the details of every legislative and other matter that comes before it
  • For this reason, Parliamentary Committees are constituted to study in detail the legislative and other matters that come before Parliament
  • Committees can be appointed in both Houses of Parliament, and their roles and functions are more or less similar
Functions of the Committees

  • To consider the Demand for Grants of various Departments/Ministries and make reports to the Houses
  • To examine Bills that are referred to the Committee by the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha
  • To study annual reports of various Ministries and Departments
  • To consider policy documents presented to the Houses if/when referred to the Committee by the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha
TYPES OF COMMITTEES
Ad hoc Committees

  • They are appointed for a specific purpose and cease to exist when the task is finished
  • They can either belong to one particular Parliament House or be a joint committee

  • There are two types of Ad hoc committees
    • Committees appointed either by a motion in Parliament or by the Speaker/Chairman to enquire into a specific subject
    • Select or Joint Committees on Bills. These Committees are constituted to study and report on specific Bills
  • Examples of Ad hoc Committees: Committees on Draft Five Year Plans, Railway Convention Committee, Fertilizer Pricing Committee etc
Standing Committees

  • Standing Committees are Committees appointed every year or periodically, and their work goes on in a continuous basis

  • The three most important Standing Committees (which deal with finance) are worth special mention
    • Committee on Estimates
    • Committee on Public Accounts
    • Committee on Public Undertakings
  • Additionally, there are 24 Departmentally Related Standing Committees that deal with affairs of a specific Department/Ministry
IMPORTANT COMMITTEES
Departmentally Related Standing Committees

  • There are a total of 24 Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSC)
  • The DRSCs were first introduced in 1993 in a batch of 17, and a further 7 were added in 2004
  • Each of these Committees consists of no more than 45 members.
    30 are to be nominated from the Lok Sabha and 15 from the Rajya Sabha
  • Ministers are not eligible to be nominated to these Committees
  • The term of the Committee is one year
Committee on Estimates

  • Consists of 30 members elected from the Lok Sabha
  • Ministers are not eligible for election to this Committee
  • The term of the Committee is one year

  • Primary functions include
    • report what improvements in organisation, efficiency or administration can be made
    • suggest policies to bring about improvements in efficiency and economy
  • the Committee can select and study estimates pertaining to any Ministry or government body as it may see fit
  • Committee can also examine matters of special interest that come up or are referred to it by the Speaker
Committee on Public Accounts

  • Consists of 22 members: 15 elected from the Lok Sabha and 7 from the Rajya Sabha
  • Ministers are not eligible for election to this Committee
  • Term of office is one year
  • Primary function is to determine if money granted by the Parliament has been spent by the Government within the scope of the Demand
  • The Committee bases its examinations on the Appropriation Accounts of the Government and the Audit Reports presented by the Comptroller and Auditor General
  • The Committee is not concerned with policy, but only with execution of the policy and its results
Committee on Public Undertakings

  • Consists of 22 members: 15 elected from the Lok Sabha and 7 from the Rajya Sabha
  • Ministers are not eligible for election to this Committee
  • Term of office is one year

  • Functions of the Committee include
    • Examine reports and accounts of Public Undertakings
    • Examine reports of the CAG on Public Undertakings
    • Examine whether Public Undertakings are being managed with sound business principles and prudent commercial practices
  • The Committee does not examine government policy or day-to-day administration of the Undertakings
Other important committees

S. No. Committee House of Parliament/
Composition
Function(s) Notes
1 Business Advisory Committee Lok Sabha
15 (including Speaker)
Recommends the amount of time to be allotted
for business in Parliament
The Speaker is the ex-officio Chairman
Members are nominated by the Speaker

Committee generally meets at the beginning of each Session
2 Committee on Private Members’
Bills and Resolutions
Lok Sabha
15 (including Dy Speaker)
Allot time to Private Members’ Bills and Resolutions
Examine Private Members’ Bills seeking to amend

the Constitution before introducing them in Lok Sabha

Examine all Private Members’ Bills after they are introduced

but before they are taken up for consideration

Classify the Bills based on their matter, urgency into

Category A or Category B
The Deputy Speaker is the ex-officio Chairman
Members are nominated by the Speaker
3 Rules Committee Lok Sabha
(15 including Speaker)
Considers matters of procedure and conduct of business in the House
Recommends amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct

of Business in Lok Sabha
The Speaker is the ex-officio Chairman
Members are nominated by the Speaker
4 Committee of Privileges Lok Sabha
15
Examines every question regarding breach of privilege of the House
or of members of any Committee

Determines whether breach of privilege was involved and makes

Recommendations
Members are nominated by the Speaker
5 Committee on Papers Laid
on the Table
Lok Sabha
15
Examine all papers laid on the table of the House by Ministers
Report to the House whether there has been compliance of the

Constitution

Report whether there has been unreasonable delay in laying the paper

Report whether both Hindi and English version have been laid
Members are nominated by the Speaker
6 Committee on Petitions Lok Sabha
15
Consider and report on petitions presented to the House
Considers representation from individuals and associations
Members are nominated by the Speaker
Ministers not eligible
7 Committee on Subordinate Legislations Lok Sabha
15
Scrutinizes and reports whether powers to make rules,
regulations etc are being properly exercised by the Executive
Members are nominated by the Speaker
Ministers not eligible
8 Committee on Govt. Assurances Lok Sabha
15
Scrutinize the assurances promises etc given by Ministers and
report on their implementation
Members are nominated by the Speaker
Ministers not eligible
9 Committee on Absence of Ministers
from Sittings of the House
Lok Sabha
15
Considers requests from Members for leave of absence from
sittings of the House

Examines every case where the member has been absent for

60 days or more without permission
Members are nominated by the Speaker
Makes recommendations whether leave

should be granted, absence granted or

seat declared vacant
10 Joint Committee on Offices of Profit Both Houses
15 – 10 from LS, 5 from RS
Examine the composition and character of Committees
appointed by Government (Central and State)

Recommend what offices should/should not disqualify a person

as a member of either House of Parliament
Committee is constituted for the duration of the
Lok Sabha
11 Committee on Welfare of SC/ST Both Houses
30 – 20 from LS, 10 from RS
Considers all matters regarding the welfare of SC/STs
falling within purview of Union Government and

Union Territories

Consider reports submitted by National Commission for SC/ST

Examine measures taken by Union govt. to secure due

representation of SC/ST in govt. services and posts
Ministers not eligible
Term of the Committee is one year
12 Railway Convention Committee Both Houses
18 – 12 from LS, 6 from RS
Review dividend payable by Railways to General Revenues
Review other matters relating to Railways finance
This was the first Committee to be constituted after
Independence (1949)

Minister of Finance and Minister of Railways are members

Ministers of State for Finance and Railways are also

Members

This is an ad hoc Committee
13 Committee on Empowerment of Women Both Houses
30 – 20 from LS, 10 from RS
Reviews and monitors measures taken by Union Govt.
to secure equality, status, dignity for women in all matters

Suggest measures for improving status of women

Review measures taken for education and representation of

women in legislative bodies and other fields

Considers reports of National Commission for Women

Sources: Government of India, Parliament of India

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