GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Indian Polity: Parliamentary committee
Source: Indian Express
Context: Recently, 22 Standing Committees were reorganised.
Parliamentary Standing Committees are permanent committees, it is constituted every year, and work continuously as against non-permanent Ad-hoc committees
The necessity of Parliamentary Standing Committees (PSC):
- For upholding government accountability: Increased volume of work, time constraints, disruptive changes, and complexity of work make Parliament not very effective in upholding the accountability of the executive.
- PSC through detailed scrutiny increases the Parliament’s ability to scrutinize government policies and help in the informed debate in the legislature.
- g. Personal Data protection bill was sent to the joint parliamentary committee for detailed review
- For upholding Fiscal prudence: PSC examines budgetary allocations for various departments and other policies of the government. It ensures fiscal economy and efficiency in public expenditure
- Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence last year pointed out that over 35% lower allocation on defence may impair the Armed forces’ weapon acquisition plans
- For free and non-partisan debate: PSC provides the Platform for ‘closed door’ meetings and members are not bound by party whips, thus allowing them the latitude for a more meaningful exchange of views.
- For protecting citizens’ rights e.g. the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology grilled two Twitter India representatives this year (2021) over concerns about safeguarding people’s rights on the social media platform.
- For all-around engagement with relevant stakeholders: E.g. On the subject of demonetization, the RBI governor was summoned by the Finance Committee.
- g. on Net neutrality and Surrogacy bill, the Standing committee conducted a widespread discussion with several stakeholders
- For acting as the link between Parliament and the People and between Administration and the Parliament: PSC seeks Public feedback to make laws more holistic and farsighted.
- PSC acts as Mini-Parliament:The members represent smaller units of MPs from both Houses, and across political parties.
- They are not bound by populist demand, remain informal and work away from public and media glare. Thus they are better suited for providing holistic and non-biased advice and scrutiny of the bills.
Measures to reform PSC functioning:
- Committee referrals: It should be made mandatory for all the bills and budgets to be examined by PSC by convention
- For this rules of procedure in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha be amended
- Increase the tenure: Some constitutional experts argue to increase the PSC tenure from 1 year to two years, to give them more time and gain more expertise in their respective areas.
- Expert support for committees: Institutional research and expert support will allow committees to better scrutinize the bills and recommend innovative solutions to the government
- Mandatory Discussion of all major reports:Major committee reports should be discussed in Parliament esp. for the reports where there is a disagreement between a Committee and the government.
- NCRWC recommended Periodic Review of PSC: DRSCs should be periodically reviewed on their utility
- Recommendation of former President Pranab Mukherjee: Parliamentary Standing Committees should scrutinize Ministries that are not audited by PAC
Thus strengthening the committee system and bringing changes in the passage of bills will ensure greater quality of legislative work and minimize potential implementation challenges. Also, concerned ministers should be made to appear before the committee to explain and defend the government policies (as is done in other countries). This will help in ensuring Representativeness, Responsiveness, and Accountability in the Parliamentary working.
Parliamentary Standing Committee
Q. What are Parliamentary Standing committees? Why are they necessary? Discuss their roles and functions to bring out their significance.
- Difference between Parliamentary vs Cabinet committees.
- Standing vs select vs finance committees.
- Who appoints the chairperson and members of these committees?
- Committees exclusive to only Lok Sabha.
- Committees where Speaker is the chairperson.