7 PM Editorial |Departmentally Related Standing Committees- Extension of Tenure of Members| 16th September 2020

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Departmentally Related Standing Committees- Extension of Tenure of Members

Topic: GS-2, Polity

Sub-Topic – Parliament—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business.

Overview – The need to extend the term of members of Departmentally Related Standing Committees of Parliament.

Introduction:

The Chairman of Rajya Sabha is keen to extend the term of Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSC) to a fixed tenure of two years. The usual term is one year. However, since these are joint committees of the two Houses of Parliament, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha also has to concur.

What are the rules regarding the term of the members of DRSC?

According to sub-rule (4) of Rule 331D of the Lok Sabha Rules and sub-rule (3) of Rule 269 of the Rajya Sabha Rules, the term of office of the “members” of the committees shall not exceed one year.

Departmentally Related Standing Committees: There are 24 Department-related Standing Committees, each with a membership of 31 (10 of the Rajya Sabha and 21 of the Lok Sabha). They were constituted in 1993.
Why is there a suggestion to change the term?
  1. The Rajya Sabha members are elected every 2 years. Re-nominating the members again after one year is an exercise that can simply be avoided. The annual renewal is only notional.
  2. As far as the Lok Sabha is concerned, the major reconstitution takes place when a new Lok Sabha is elected, that is normally after five years. So, re-nomination of members every year is a hectic exercise.
  3. They can accommodate 240 members of the Rajya Sabhaand 504 members of the Lok Sabha. Ministers cannot be members of these committees and some senior members opt out. Thus no eligible and available MP is left out of the membership of these committees.
What is the status of the standing committees other than the DRSCs?
  1. The Rajya Sabha Rules prescribe no fixed tenurefor all the other Standing Committees of the Rajya Sabha listed therein. They hold office until a new committee is constituted.
  2. Most of its committees listed in the Lok Sabha Rules have a tenure of one year, except a few for which no tenure has been prescribed.
How can the DRSCs be reconstituted?
  1. The Standing Committees are permanent. There should be no difficulty if the terms of the members of the two Houseson these committees are different, in consonance with the tenure of the Houses themselves. It may be two years for the Rajya Sabha members and for the Lok Sabha members, it may be coterminous with its life.
  2. The Rules could also provide that casual vacancies may be filled in by the Presiding Officers, who may also be empowered to reconstitute the membership of their respective Houses in the committees, if they so desire.
Conclusion:

The yearly reconstitution of DRSCs is only a notional exercise and most members are re-nominated back. A fixed tenure in line with the tenure of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha tenures, can help the committees to benefit from his experience and expertise.

Source: The Hindu

Mains Question:
  1. Should the members of the Departmentally Related Standing Committees be given a larger tenure than the current tenure of one year? Discuss.
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