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Parliamentary standing committees:

Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Parliamentary standing committees:


Context:

The parliamentary standing committee on Information Technology has summoned Facebook on September 2 to discuss the issue of alleged misuse of social media platforms in the wake of claims that the US firm did not apply hate-speech rules to certain BJP politicians.

What are Parliamentary Committees?

The Lok Sabha website describes a parliamentary committee as a “committee which is appointed or elected by the House or nominated by the Speaker and which works under the direction of the Speaker and presents its report to the House or to the Speaker and the Secretariat”.

Different types of committees:

  1. ‘Standing’committees: Their existence is uninterrupted and usually reconstituted on an annual basis.
  • They are further divided into financial committees and departmentally-related standing committees (DRSCs).
  • Finance committees are considered to be particularly powerful. The three financial committees are the Public Accounts Committee, the Estimates Committee and the Committee on Public Undertakings.
  1. ‘Select’ committees formed for a specific purpose, for instance, to deliberate on a particular bill. Once the Bill is disposed of, that select committee ceases to exist.

Composition of Departmentally-related standing committees (DRSCs):

Until the 13th Lok Sabha, each DRSC comprised 45 members — 30 nominated from Lok Sabha and 15 from the Rajya Sabha.

However, with their restructuring in July 2004, each DRSC now has 31 members — 21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha, to be nominated by Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha chairman, respectively.

  • They are appointed for a maximum period of one year and the committees are reconstituted every year cutting across party lines.

Composition of Financial Committees:

  • The estimates committee has 30 members, all from the Lok Sabha.
  • Both the public accounts committee and the committee on public undertakings have 22 members each — 15 elected from the Lok Sabha and seven from the Rajya Sabha.

Powers:

Parliamentary committees draw their authority from Article 105 (on privileges of Parliament members) and Article 118 (on Parliament’s authority to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business).

Significance:

Committee reports are usually exhaustive and provide authentic information on matters related to governance. Bills that are referred to committees are returned to the House with significant value addition. However, Parliament is not bound by the recommendations of committees.

Insta Link:

Prelims Link:

  1. Difference between Parliamentary vs Cabinet committees.
  2. Standing vs select vs finance committees.
  3. Who appoints chairperson and members of these committees?
  4. Committees exclusive to only Lok Sabha.
  5. Committees where Speaker is the chairperson.

Mains Link:

What are Parliamentary Standing committees? Why are they necessary? Discuss their roles and functions to bring out their significance.

Sources: the Hindu.