Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSCs)
News: In the current Lok Sabha, 17 Bills were referred to committees.
Parliamentary Committees are established to study and deal with various matters that cannot be directly handled by the legislature due to their volume.
- Constitutional Provision: Indian Constitution mentions two kinds of parliamentary committees under Article 118 (1) of the constitution-
- Standing Committees
- Ad Hoc Committees
- Departmentally Related Standing Committees:
- These are committees that examine bills, budgets and policies of ministries. DRSCs were first formed in 1993.
- There are 24 such committees and between them, they focus on the working of different ministries.
- Each committee has 31 MPs, 21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha.
- They have a tenure of one year, then they are reconstituted and their work continues throughout the term of a Lok Sabha.
- These members are to be nominated by the Speaker of Lok Sabha or the Chairman of Rajya Sabha respectively.
- Ministers are not members; key committees like those related to Finance, Defence, Home etc are usually chaired by Opposition MPs.
- Functions: DRSCs perform three important functions: examine Bills referred to them; select specific topics related to the ministries and examine implementation by the Government; and examine the budgetary outlays of the departments.
- Joint Parliamentary Committees (JPC): They are constituted for a specific purpose, with MPs from both Houses.
- Select Committee: They are formed for examining a particular Bill and its membership is limited to MPs from one House. Example: In 2019, Rajya Sabha referred the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 to a Select Committee of 23 of its MPs from different parties.
Functions of Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSCs)
- DRSCs help Parliament in managing its business better. A committee of 30 is in a better position to examine a topic in-depth than by an assembly of 700.
- They enable input from experts and those who may be directly affected by a policy or legislation. For example, the DRSCs often invite comments from the public and call people to testify.
- Members can discuss issues and reach consensus in the committees without worrying about constituency pressures as it is outside direct public glare.
- Anti-defection law does not apply to committees — therefore, decisions can be made out of the party lines.
- Finally, due to specified areas members are able to build their expertise in that, which helps them scrutinise issues more thoroughly.
- When does a committee examine a Bill? A bill can reach a committee for examination in three ways:
- When the minister piloting the Bill recommends to the House that his Bill be examined by a Select Committee of the House or a joint committee of both Houses.
- If the minister makes no such motion, it is up to the presiding officer of the House to decide whether to send a Bill to a departmentally related Standing Committee.
- A Bill passed by one House can be sent by the other House to its Select Committee.
- Result of sending a bill to a Committee:
- The committee undertakes a detailed examination of the Bill. It invites comments and suggestions from experts, stakeholders and citizens. It then provides a report recommending measures to strengthen the bill.
- The report of the committee is of a recommendatory nature.