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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : An essential pit stop in parliamentary business

 Source: The Hindu

 

  • Prelims: Parliamentary democracy, functions of whip, parliamentary committees etc
  • Mains GS Paper II: Parliament-Structure, organization, functioning and conduct of business etc

 

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • The recently concluded monsoon session of Parliament (July-August), even though it was adjourned sine die, it witnessed the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022 being sent to the Standing Committee of Parliament for detailed examination and a report thereon.

 

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

Parliamentary System of Government:

There are two executives:

  • The nominal executive is the head of state e.g. President while the real executive is the Prime Minister, who is the head of government.
  • In such a system, the role of president or monarch is primarily ceremonial and the Prime Minister along with the cabinet wields effective power.
  • The Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary form of government, both at the Center and in the States.
  • Articles 74 and 75 deal with the parliamentary system of government at the Union level and Articles 163 and 164 contain provisions with regard to the States.
  • Executive is responsible to the legislature for its policies and acts.

 

Parliamentary functioning data:

  • Functioning of the monsoon session of Parliament: The Lok Sabha’s productivity was 47% and the Rajya Sabha only 42%.
  • 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.
  • Bills referred to DRSCs: The percentage of Bills having been referred to the DRSCs during the tenures:
    • 14th (2004-2009)-60%.
    • 15th (2009-2014)- 71%
    • 16th Lok Sabhas (2014-2019)-27%

 

What Parliamentary Committees do?

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

 

Importance of Parliamentary Committees:

  • Not examined properly: 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
  • Value in content of legislation: The deliberations in these committees mostly add value to the content of the legislation, the Members, their party positions notwithstanding, try to reach a consensus.

 

Suggestions for consideration of Bills:

  • Power of Speaker to refer bills to committees: This requirement is often given a go by for various political or administrative reasons.
    • It may be useful to make the process of reference of Bills to these committees compulsory/an automatic process.
  • No whip of the party: All discussions in the Parliamentary Standing Committee should be frank and free.
  • Fixed timeline: The committees can be given a fixed timeline to come up with the recommendation and present its report which can be decided by the Speaker/Chairman.
  • Ensure quality work in the committees: Experts in the field may be invited with the necessary domain knowledge and also help introduce the latest developments and trends in that field from worldwide.
  • The Speaker/Chairman right to fix a time limit: If the government of the day asks for it and the demand is found to be reasonable by the Speaker/Chairman.
  • Inter-session period: Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs to keep an eye on this and, in collaboration with the committee chairman, get these parliamentary works organized during the inter-sessional period, in advance.

 

Features:

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Way Forward

  • Allow committees to be formed: Governments and the opposition party should not be wary of these committees, as in most of these committees, the government has a majority and the final decision is always by the process of majority voting.
  • Fostering the trust of parliamentarians: Both from the ruling party and the Opposition parties, the relevance and usefulness of the system of the committees is of paramount importance.
  • Suggestions for the Ministry: The committees should not limit themselves to discussing just the budget proposals and endorsing them with a few qualifications here or amendments there.
    • They should also come up with suggestions for the Ministry to take up new initiatives and people-friendly measures.

 

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

  1. To what extent, in your view, the Parliament is able to ensure accountability of the executive in India?(UPSC 2021)

 

(200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)