[Answered] Do Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees keep the administrations on its toes and inspire reverence for parliamentary control? Evaluate the working of such committees with suitable examples.

The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee have been formed to cover all the Ministries/ Departments of the Government of India. Each of these Committees consists of 31 Members – 21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha to be nominated by the Speaker, Lok Sabha and the Chairman, Rajya Sabha, respectively. The term of Office of these Committees does not exceed one year. 

Functions of Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee 

  1. To consider the Demands for Grants of the related Ministries/Departments and report thereon. The report shall not suggest anything of the nature of cut motions; 
  2. To examine Bills, pertaining to the related Ministries/Departments, referred to the Committee by the Chairman or the Speaker, as the case may be, and report thereon; 
  3. To consider the annual reports of the Ministries/Departments and report thereon; and 
  4. To consider national basic long term policy documents presented to the Houses, if referred to the Committee by the Chairman or the Speaker, as the case may be, and report thereon 

Significance of Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees 

  1. Emphasis on long-term plans, policies guiding the working of the Executive, these Committees are providing necessary direction, guidance and inputs for broad policy formulations and in achievement of the long-term national perspective by the Executive. 
  2. It is easier to examine a topic in depth by a committee of 30 than by an assembly of 700. 
  3. The work put in by the total 24 DRSCs in examining the Demands for Grants of all the ministries equals 30 days of functioning of the Parliament. 
  4. They enable input from experts and those who may be directly affected by a policy or legislation. 
  5. Being outside direct public glare allows members to discuss issues and reach consensus without worrying about constituency or party pressures. 
  6. Overall, secure more accountability of the executive towards the legislature.  

Issues/Challenges of Standing committees 

  1. Meetings happen behind closed doors of which the minutes are never published creating the issue of transparency in the working of the committee. 
  2. The committee’s recommendations are not binding in nature. This leads to bypassing the result of detailed scrutiny of the bill. 
  3. Lack of standing research support. There is an absence of dedicated researchers associated. 
  4. All the bills are not referred to the departmental standing committees. 
  5. One year tenure leads very little time for specialization 
  6. Attendance of MPs at the committee meetings is weak. Also, one committee had to deal with too many ministries 
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