[Answered] Why are Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees (DRSC) not being utilized as per their stated objectives? Suggest some measures to increase their efficacy and their relevance.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain why Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees   (DRSC) are not being utilized as per their stated objectives. Also write some measures to increase their efficacy and their relevance.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees 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. They have tenure of one year, then they are reconstituted and their work continues throughout the term of a Lok Sabha.

Following reasons explain why Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees (DRSC) are not being utilized as per their stated objectives:

  • Meetings happen behind closed doors of which the minutes are never published creating the issue of transparency in the working of the committee.
  • The committee’s recommendations are not binding in nature. This leads to bypassing the result of detailed scrutiny of the bill.
  • Lack of standing research support. There is an absence of dedicated researchers
  • All the bills are not referred to the departmental standing committees. E.g. three Farm Bills were passed without being referred to the DRSC.
  • One year tenure leads very little time for specialization.
  • Attendance of MPs at the committee meetings is weak. Also, one committee had to deal with too many ministries.

Measures to increase efficacy and relevance of DRSC:

  • It may be useful to make the process of reference of Bills to these committees compulsory/an automatic process.
  • During the discussions of the committee meetings, no whip of the party would apply to them and they have the liberty to vote in favour or against the Bill in Parliament.
  • 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.
  • To ensure quality work in the committees, experts in the field may be invited who could bring with them the necessary domain knowledge and also help introduce the latest developments and trends in that field from worldwide.
  • Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs in collaboration with the committee chairmen should organise parliamentary works during the inter-sessional period, in advance.
  • The committees should not limit themselves to discussing just the budget proposals. They should also come up with suggestions for the Ministry to take up new initiatives and people-friendly measures.

Parliamentary Standing Committees ensure healthy democracy and governance through scrutiny and better policies. They enable the cabinet and Parliament to make difficult decisions.

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