Parliamentary Committees are an effective tool of legislative control over the executive. They strength legislative control over the executive by ensuring a thorough examination of all the bills and matters referred to them by the house in a time bound manner.
Types of Parliamentary Committees:
On the basis of their term, Parliamentary Committees are categorised into –
– Standing or Permanent Committees
– Adhoc or Temporary Committees
Standing Committees are further categorised into –
– Financial Committees
– Other Standing Committees
On the basis of the membership, Parliamentary Committees are categorised into
– Select Committee – has members from one house of the Parliament only
– Joint Committee – has members from both the houses
Financial Committees are the most important Parliamentary Committees as they scrutinisqe the financial aspects of the executive. The three financial Committees are:
1. Public Accounts Committee – Oldest financial commission established in 1921. It has 22 members – 15 members from Lok Sabha and 7 members from Rajya Sabha. Ministers can’t be appointed to this commission and members from Rajya Sabha Don’t have right to vote. As a convention from 1967 onwards a member of opposition is elected as the chairman of committee. The main purpose of Committee is to ascertain whether money granted by parliament has been spent by government within the scope of demand. The appropriation Account of Government of India and audit report of CAG are examined by the Commission. CAG is also known as Friend, philosopher and Guide of PAC. Term of PAC is 1 year
2. Estimates Committee – Created in 1950, it consists of 30 members from Lok Sabha only. Members are elected from Lok Sabha by the members of Lok Sabha through the system of proportional representation for a period of 1 year. One of members of the committee is appointed as Chairman by the Speaker of Lok Sabha, however if the Deputy Speaker is a member he automatically becomes chairman. The Committee examines all the estimates of various ministries and Departments. It suggests economy in financial administration and recommends for improving economy. The estimates comm. is also known as continuous economic committee.PAC and Estimates Committee are also known as twin sister committees
3. Public undertaking committee – Established in 1963 on recommendations for Krishna Menon Committee. It consists of 22 members – 15 from Lok Sabha and 7 from Rajya Sabha. Ministers are not eligible for appointment. Tenure of Committee is one year and every year 1/5th of members retire and new members are selected in their place.
Functions of the Committee are –
1. To examine reports of PSU’s
2. To examine reports of CAG on PSU’s
3. To examine autonomy and independent functioning of PSU’s
Other Standing Committees
1) Business Advisory CommitteeThe presiding officer of the house is the ex-officio chairman of the committees. Almost all sections of the house are represented on the committee as per the respective strength of parties in the house. The Committee generally meets at the beginning of each session and thereafter as and when necessary.Function – To recommend the time that should be allotted for the discussion of such government, legislative and other businesses as the presiding officer in consultation with the leader of the house may direct to be referred to the committee.This committee on its own may also recommend to bring the government to bring forward particular subjects for discussion in the house and recommend allocation of time for such discussion.
2) Committee on Private Member bills and Resolutions:The functions of the committee are – to allot time to private members bills and resolutions and to examine private member bills seeking to amend the constitution before their introduction.The committee thus performs the same function in relation to private Member bills and resolutions as the business advisory committee does in regard of government business.
3) Rules CommitteeConsiders matters of procedure and conduct of business in the house and recommends any amendment or addition to the rules of procedure and conduct of business of the house.
4) Committee of Privileges:It examines every question involving breach of privileges of the house of the members of any committee referred to it by the speaker.
5) Committee on Paper laid on the table:It examines whether the papers laid in the house are in compliance with the provision of the Constitution.
6) Committee on Petition – It considers and reports on petitions presented to the house. It also considers representation from individuals and associations.
7) Committee on Subordinate LegislationThe Committee scrutinizes and reports to the house on whether the powers to make regulation, rules, sub rules, by laws etc., delegated by the Parliament are being properly executed by the executive within the scope of such delegation.
8) Committee on Welfare of SC’s & ST’sFunctions – To consider the reports submitted by National Commission of SC’s and ST’s; to consider all matter concerning the welfare of the SC’s & ST’s; to examine the measures taken by the Union Government to secure due representation of SC’s & ST’s in services and posts under its control.
9) Committee on Empowerment of Women
The Committee came into existence on 29th April, 1997 as a consequence of resolution adopted by both the houses of Parliament on the occasion of International Women’s day 8th March 1966.
– It reviews and monitors the measures taken by the Union govt. in the direction of securing for woman equality, status and dignity in all matters.
– It suggests necessary correctives for improving the status/ condition of woman in respect of matters within the purview of the Union Government- It examines the measures taken by the Union government for comprehensive education and adequate representation of women in legislative bodies services and other fields.
– It considers the report of National Commission for woman.
Department Related Standing Committees (DRSC) – Permanent and Joint Committees constituted on 29th March 1993 for effective Parliamentary surveillance over the central government. Initially 17 DRSC’s were constituted with 45 members out of which 30 members are from Lok Sabha and 15 members are from Rajya Sabha. DRSCs came into effect from 1st April, 1993. DRSCs were restructured in July 2004 where in number of DRSC’s were increased from 17 to 24 and members in each DRSC were decreased from 45 to 31. Out of the 24 DRSC’s – 1 to 8 work under the supervision of the Chairman of Rajya Sabha and 9 to 24 work under the supervision of the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
Functions of DRSCs are:
1. To consider the demand for grants of concerned ministries and departments and make a report on the same to the house.
2. To examine bills related to concerned ministries and departments when they are referred by chairman of Rajya Sabha or speaker of Lok Sabha
3. To consider of annual report of ministries and departments
4. To consider National basic long term policy document presented to the house if they are referred by the chairman of Rajya Sabha and speaker of Lok Sabha.
Exceptions to the functions of DRSCs
1. DRSC’s don’t consider matters of day to day administration of concerned min and departments
2. They generally don’t consider the matters which are under consideration of other parliamentary committees
A minister is not eligible for election or nomination to
– The financial committees- DRSC’s
– Committee on empowerment of women
– Committee on govt. assurances
– Committee on petitions- Committee on subordinate legislation
– Committee on Welfare of SC’s and ST’s