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Role of ‘Departmental Committees’ for accountability of Parliament Functioning

  • Published
    23rd Sep, 2022
Context

As per the recently concluded monsoon session, the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022 has been sent for re-consideration to Standing Department Committee of parliament.

So, let us examine how referring a Bill to the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees does help the process of law making.

About

The Parliamentary Standing committee:

  • A standing committee is a committee consisting of Members of Parliament.
  • 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.
  • Standing committees are of the following kinds :
    • Financial standing committees (FSC)
    • Department related standing committees (DRSC)
    • Other standing committees (OSC)
  • The Parliament has 24 Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees (DRSC), comprising members of the Parliament of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha in the ratio 2:1.
  • These committees are constituted by the Speaker of Lok Sabha and the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
  • The term of office of these committees does not exceed one year.
  • These committees are serviced either by Lok Sabha secretariat or the Rajya Sabha secretariat, depending on who has appointed the chairman of that committee.

Any Bill introduced in Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha can be referred to a DRSC by either the Speaker of the Lok Sabha or Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. 

Functions of the parliamentary Committees:

  • It examine various legislations referred to it
  • The budget proposals of different Ministries
  • Policy thinking on the vision, mission
  • Future direction of the Ministries concerned

Why these committees are important?

  • Analysis of Bills in respective houses: It has been alleged that Bills which are not being referred to the parliamentary committees, are not examined properly, especially from the perspective of consumers and stakeholders. Example: Farm bills
  • Effective law making: The committee involves participation of parliamentary members and add value to the content of the legislation, the Members, their party positions notwithstanding, try to reach a consensus.

How the Standing Committee assure accountability of functioning?

  • Think on critical issues: Parliament deliberates on matters that are complex, and therefore needs technical expertise to understand such matters better. 
    • Committees help with this by providing a forum where Members can engage with domain experts and government officials during the course of their study.
  • Regional aspects considerations: Committees also provide a forum for building consensus across political parties.  The proceedings of the House during sessions are televised, and MPs are likely to stick to their party positions on most matters.
  • Maintain Cooperation: Committees also examine policy issues in their respective Ministries and make suggestions to the government.
  • Economic functions: Besides Bills, the DRSCs also examine the budget. The detailed estimates of expenditure of all ministries, called Demand for Grants are sent for examination to the DRCSs.

Verifying, please be patient.

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