|Demand of the question
Introduction. What are parliamentary standing committees?
Body. Discuss why parliamentary standing committees are necessary? What is their significance?
Conclusion. Way forward.
Parliamentary standing committees are permanent and regular committees which are constituted from time to time in pursuance of the provisions of an act of parliament or rules of procedure and conduct of business in Lok Sabha. The work of these Committees is of continuous nature. Among the Standing Committees, the three Financial Committees- Committees on Estimates, Public Accounts and Public Undertakings constitute standing committees as they keep an vigil over Government expenditure and performance.
Need of parliamentary standing committees:
- Lawmaking: Due to the large volume of legislature, discussion of all the bills in parliament in detail is not possible. Committees do a detailed discussion and analysis on a proposed law, thus enabling that every law is for the benefit of citizens.
- Policy challenges: Disruptivechanges in technology and the expansion of economy bring new policy challenges that require the assistance of experts in dealing with such situations.
- Consensus: Committees provide a forum for building consensus across political parties. The proceedings of the House during sessions are televised, and MPs are likely to stick to their party positions on most matters. Committees have closed door meetings, which allows them to freely question and discuss issues and arrive at a consensus.
- Scrutiny: To ensure that a Bill is scrutinised properly before it is passed, our law making procedure has a provision for Bills to be referred to a standing committee for detailed examination.
Importance of Parliamentary Standing Committees in democracy:
- Executive accountability: Parliamentary standing committees ensure executive accountability through scrutiny of public spending and various laws. For example, the public accounts committee is concerned with the manner and results of spending public funds. It scrutinise the accounts and the report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India, thereby ensuring accountability of any misspending.
- Better informed discussions: Committee allows members for a more meaningful exchange of views as against discussions in open Houses where party positions take precedence. This allows them to make better decisions on policies.
- Expertise: Committees allow use of input and suggestions of various expertise on subject matter of law thereby helping to formulate better policies and laws. It is through these committees that such expertise is involved in lawmaking.
- Help in Economic growth: The Estimates Committee does a detailed examination of the budget estimates. It suggests alternative policies to bring about efficiency and economy in administration.
- Scrutiny of public funds: The Public accounts committees scrutinise the government accounts and the report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India. Thus reduce the chance of misspending and also validate government’s spending statistics.
- Ensure better laws and rules: The Committee on Subordinate Legislation scrutinise and report to the house about regulations, rules, sub-rules, bye-laws, etc. conferred by the Constitution being properly exercised within the limits of various provisions.
- Ensure answerability: The Committee on Government Assurances committee scrutinise the various assurances, promises, undertakings, etc. given by ministers from time to time report on the extent to which such assurances have been implemented. This ensures the answerability of the government to public enabling democracy in true spirit.
- Ensure participation of MPs: The Committee on Absence of Members considers all applications from members for leave of absence from the sittings of the House and examines every case where a member has been absent. This ensures participation of each member in the constructive lawmaking process and various debates and discussions.
Although parliamentary and cabinet committees are not a part of the Constitution they ensure healthy democracy and governance through scrutiny and better policies. They enable the cabinet and Parliament to make difficult decisions.