The fact that the Parliament meets three times a year, for the Budget, Monsoon, and Winter Sessions, is known to us as citizens. This portion of the legislative session is broadcast and highly followed. The Parliament does, however, have another space where a sizable portion of its work is accomplished. These are referred to as parliamentary committees. A standing committee in the Indian Parliament is one made up of MPs, or Members of Parliament. It is a permanent and regular committee that is occasionally established in accordance with a parliamentary act or the rules for how business should be conducted. These smaller groups of MPs research and consider a variety of issues, bills, and ministry budgets.
The job of the Indian Parliament is similarly extensive and complex, thus a significant portion of it is completed by various parliamentary committees. Because the Parliament deliberates on such complicated issues, technical knowledge is necessary to better grasp them. MPs may not have the knowledge to comprehend the specifics of every subject and topic because of their diverse backgrounds. Committees assist with this by offering a platform where Members may interact with subject matter experts and elected officials while they are researching. For instance, the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, which forbids commercial surrogacy but permits altruistic surrogacy, was reviewed by the Committee on Health and Family Welfare. The National Commission for Women, medical professionals, and government officials were among the groups the Committee consulted before drafting its findings, according to PRS Legislative.
Additionally, committees look into Ministry-specific policy concerns and offer recommendations to the administration. Whether or whether these recommendations have been adopted, the administration must provide a report. The Committees then present an Action Taken Report based on this information, outlining the status of the government's implementation of each suggestion.
These Committees serve as a platform for fostering broad understanding. MPs are inclined to adhere to their party viewpoints on the majority of issues since the House's procedures during sessions are broadcast on television. Committees gather behind closed doors so they may openly ask questions, debate problems, and come to an agreement. There is a tendency for MPs who are a part of these committees to consider every subject and policy independently and without being influenced by their party hardlines or whip because anti-defection laws does not apply to them when working inside these committees.
Composition and categories
Except for a few differences, the committee arrangements of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, both Houses of Parliament, are comparable. Their nomination, tenure of office, responsibilities, and methods of doing business are largely the same. Every year, on a regular basis, or after consultation between the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, these standing committees are chosen or elected.
There are two types of Parliamentary committee, the Standing committee and the Ad hoc committee.
The Standing committees are constituted every year or frequently and they work on continuous basis.
Ad hoc committees are temporary and created for specific task. Once that task is completed, the ad hoc committees cease to exist. This includes Inquiry Committees and Advisory Committees.
Standing committees are broadly classified as follows:
The Public Accounts Committee is responsible for reviewing the yearly reports of the government and the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General that the President submits to the legislature.
Estimates Committee reviews the government's budget's projected expenditure estimates and makes "economies" in public spending.
Committee on Public Undertakings reviews the financial statements and reports of public enterprises.
Department Standing Committees
There are 24 such Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSCs), each of which is in charge of a group of Ministries, including those related to agriculture, energy, trade, petroleum, labour, railroads, etc. To guarantee that Parliament could keep up with the expanding complexity of administration, DRSCs were initially established in 1993. These committees are ongoing and are reorganised annually. They are led by a Chairperson and are made up of 10 Rajya Sabha members and 21 Lok Sabha members. Bills, budgets, and subject-specific concerns for review are the three main areas that the DRSCs focus on.
Our legislative process includes a mechanism for bills to be submitted to a DRSC for in-depth study in order to guarantee that they are adequately scrutinised before being enacted. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha or the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha each have the authority to refer any Bill submitted in their respective chambers to a DRSC. The Committees have made significant contributions over time to enhance the legislation established by Parliament. For instance, the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 was just approved during the budget session, updating the statute from 1986. The Committee on Food and Consumer Affairs had already evaluated an earlier draught of the bill and made many recommendations for changes, including tougher penalties for deceptive advertising and clearer definitions. The majority of these suggestions were approved by the administration and included in the 2019 Act.
Although Committees have significantly improved Parliament's effectiveness in carrying out its duties, the Committee system still has room for improvement. DRSCs reviewed 197 problems, 331 demands for grants, 41 bills, and 503 action taken reports during the 16th Lok Sabha.
They work in response to the involved ministries' requests for funds. They don't suggest any cuts.
They look over the relevant ministry's invoices.
They work on the ministries' yearly reports.
They also take into account the policy documents that the ministries provided to the two chambers.
They often avoid issues that are being discussed by other departmental standing committees.
In addition to bills, the DRSCs review the budget. The DRCSs receive precise budgetary projections from all ministries, known as Demand for Grants, for review. They research the demands to look at allocation patterns, ministry expenditure, utilisation rates, and the policy agendas of each ministry.
The recommendations they provide are advisory in nature, hence the Parliament is not required to abide by them.
Committees to Inquire
Committee on Petitions - This committee looks at any petitions on bills or matters of general public significance.
Committee of Privileges - This committee investigates violations of the house's rules of procedure and recommends appropriate remedies. It has a judicial bent to it. It has 15 MPs in the Lok Sabha and 10 in the Rajya Sabha.
Ethics Committee - This committee investigates cases of misbehaviour and indiscipline by members of the house and determines the appropriate course of action.
Committees to Scrutinize and Control
They periodically scrutinise the pledges and promises, policy initiatives, executive and institution-related activity, and make sure that the ministers carry out their public duties without interruption.
These committees are concerned with the Provision of Facilities and Services to the members of both the Houses of parliament.
Ad hoc committees come in two types. They are transient, and after they serve their intended function, they vanish.
Inquiry Committees can be created by either of the two chambers, look into inquiries into specific issues. The speaker or chairman of the relevant house may appoint it.
Advisory Committees provide feedback on specific laws. These committees include select or joint committees on legislation. They follow a different method than the Inquiry Committees because theirs is outlined in the Rules of Procedure and the Speaker's/directions. Chairman's Every time a certain Bill is introduced in one of the Houses, the Select Committee is asked to examine every provision in the Bill.
The Indian legislative system is not complete without parliamentary committees. They offer a more thorough examination and analysis of crucial subjects. These parliamentary committees serve as a vital gateway between the government and the populace and have a significant impact on how the government formulates its policies. Parliamentary and cabinet committees are crucial to preserving a strong democracy and delivering effective governance via monitoring and better policies, even though they are not explicitly mentioned in the constitution. Parliamentary committees are significant since they were created to carry out a thorough inquiry into new legislation, government spending, and policies. There is no denying that there is room for development, even if it is reasonable and excellent to declare that these committees have effectively attained efficiency in carrying out the tasks assigned to them by the Indian parliament. The most significant benefit is that it holds the executive branch of government responsible.