Polity Study Material: Parliamentary Committees

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Committes of Parliament

To cope with the ever-increasing work, the Indian Parliament has set up a number of committees. These committees play an effective role in the working of the Indian Parliament. The members of these committees are appointed by the Speaker or are elected by the House from amongst its members. These committees are authorized to call witnesses and collect evidence by asking for official papers and records. The important committees of the Lok Sabha are as follows:

  1. Business Advisory Committee: This committee is concerned with the planning and regulation of business of the House. It also advises the House regarding allocation of time for discussion of various issues. This Committee is formed at the beginning of the Lok Sabha՚s session and consists of 15 members. The Speaker is the Chairman of this Committee. To ensure the smooth working of the House, the leaders of the major opposition parties are also associated with this Committee.
  2. Select Committees on Bills: There are a number of Select Committees of the House which collect information on various issues and submit necessary report on the basis of the examination of relevant material and witnesses. The Committee is dissolved soon after it has submitted the report on the subject under reference. The members of the Select Committee are appointed by the House. The strength of members of various Select Committees differs according to the importance of the Bill.
  3. Committee on Privileges: The Committee tries to safeguard and protect the privileges of the members of the House and suggests appropriate action against the erring authorities. It may be noted that the members of the Parliament have been granted certain privileges and immunities, and any violation or denial of these is tantamount to a crime for which legal proceedings can be instituted against the erring authority. The Privileges Committee consists of 15 members, who are nominated by the Speaker at the commencement of the session of the Lok Sabha. Generally, the Deputy Speaker acts as the Chairman of this Committee.
  4. Committee on Subordinate Legislation; The Committee IS constituted to ensure that the rule making powers delegated to the executive are not misused. It scrutinizes the rules and regulations enacted by the various departments to ensure that these conform to the main law enacted by the Parliament. This Committee also consists of 15 members who are nominated by the Speaker. The Ministers cannot be members of this Committee.
  5. Committee on Public Undertakings: This is a Committee of both the Houses of Parliament. It consists of22 members 15 from the Lok Sabha and 7 from the Rajya Sabha. The Committee examines the working of the Public Undertakings, including their financial matters. It is also the function of the Committee to examine the reports and accounts of Public Undertakings specified in the Rules of Procedure and the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor-General thereon, if any, and to examine, in the context of the autonomy and efficiency of the Public Undertakings, whether the affairs of the Public Undertakings are being managed in accordance with the sound business principles and prudent commercial practice.
  6. Committee on Government Assurances: This Committee examines the various assurances and undertakings given by the Ministers on the floor of the House to find out how far these have been fulfilled or implemented within the stipulated time. This Committee consists of 15 members who are nominated by the Speaker for one year. The Ministers are not eligible for membership of this Committee.
  7. Estimates Committee: It is very significant Committee and performs the following functions:
    1. It reports what economies, improvements in organization, efficiency or administrative reforms, consistent with the policy underlying the estimates, can be effected.
    2. It suggest alternative policies to bring about efficiency and economy in administration.
    3. It ensures that the money is were laidout within the limits of the policy implied in the estimates.
    4. It suggests the form in which the estimates should be presented to the Parliament. The Estimates Committee consists of 30 members of the House on the basis of the proportional representation and single transferable vote. The Chairman of the Estimates Committee is appointed by the Speaker. However, if the Deputy Speaker happens to be a member of this Committee. He ipso facto becomes its Chairman.
    5. Public Accounts Committee: This is also a joint committee of the two Houses. It consists of 22 members-15 from Lok Sabha and 7 from Rajya Sabha. It may be noted that Rajya Sabha members are only associate members and are not entitled to vote. The members of the Committee are elected for one year but by convention they generally continue in office for at least two years. The election is held on the basis of proportional representation through a single transferable vote. The Ministers cannot be members of this Committee. The Chairman of the Committee is appointed by the Speaker from amongst its members. The main function of the Committee is to examine the report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India and to ascertain that the expenditure has not exceeded the grants made by the Parliament and the money has been spent for the purpose it was sanctioned by the Parliament. It also sees to it that the financial rules and regulations have been followed by the executive. The Committee plays an important role in ensuring regularity and economy in expenditure.

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