In this article we will discuss about the committee system in Indian parliament.
Committee system in Indian Parliament has come to stay as an integral part for smooth transacting of the business of the House. It is accepted that without such system it will almost be impossible for any legislative body to finish the volume of work which it is required to handle.
The word ‘Committee’ finds its origin from French word ‘Command’ which means trust. “Hence, in the usage of Parliament or other legislative assemblies, the word has come to signify one or more members of legislative body into whose hands a matter under discussion is placed for investigation and report.”
In the words H.M. Robert, “A Committee is a body of one or more persons appointed or elected by an Assembly or society to consider or investigate or take action in regard to certain matters or subjects or to do all these things.” The history of committees in India began with the establishment of first legislature in 1854.
The Legislative Council (1854-61) appointed a committee to consider what should be its standing order at its first sitting held on May 20,1854. It was a four member committee appointed by a House of only twelve members. Since then committee system in India has come to stay and today each House of Parliament has its own committees.
These can broadly be divided into three categories. These are committees which help the smooth running of its business e.g., Business Advisory Committee, Rules Committee, etc. Then there are committees which help the House in the transaction of business. These include both Select Committees as well as Joint Select Committees e.g., Committees on Private Member’s Bills.
Then come Financial Committees e.g., Public Accounts Committee, Committee on Public Undertakings, Estimates Committees and so on. Some of the committees are such which are nominated for a specific purpose and as soon as that purpose is over the life of the committee comes to an end e.g., a Select Committee or Joint Select Committee which may be appointed by the Presiding Officer of the House for examining a particular bill and after the committee has submitted its report and the House has decided not to recommit that to the committee again, that ceases to exist.
There are certain committees which are appointed for a period of one year only e.g., Estimates Committee, the Committee on Private Members Bills, etc., whereas there are other committees which are for the period till the Lok Sabha is dissolved e.g., the Business Advisory Committee and so on.
Whatever may be the composition of the committee, as long as it is operative it enjoys the same powers, privileges and immunities as are enjoyed by the members of the House which has constituted it. The House elects one of the members of the committee as its chairman, but when Deputy Speaker/Deputy Chairman is one of the member of the Committee, he is always the Chairman of the Committee.
The committee can call for all documents which it may like to examine. It can also examine witnesses. Each committee, however, is fully empowered to frame its rules and regulations for the transaction of its business.
Any affront to the dignity of the committee is considered disregard and afrontation to the House constituting it. Those involved in any case before the committee can also get themselves represented through counsels, of course, with the approval of the committee.
Each committee is supposed to present its report by a particular date. Time can be extended by the House on the request of the committee. It is not always necessary that all reports should be unanimous. Those members of the committee, who do not agree with majority view can append their note of dissent.
The report is presented to the House by the chairman of the committee or in his absence by one of the members of the committee for its consideration. The House then considers both the majority report as well as the note of dissent and can take either of the course. It may accept majority view and accept the report. It can seek clarification on some of the points and thus re-submit the report to the committee.
The terms of reference of each committee are decided before hand, before it is referred to it. In some cases the committee simply places the facts before the House without making any recommendations, so that that gets a free hand to act in the way it likes.
In some other cases, the committee also makes recommendations about the future course of action, which ought to be followed. It is, however, for the House to decide whether view point of the committee, as expressed in the report, is to be accepted or not.
The committees, these days, are doing immensely useful work. Since the House has neither time nor technical expertise in every case, the work load of the House is considerably reduced, because all spade work as well as thorough examination of the point referred to it, is done at the committee stage.
Since each committee contains members of all the major political parties in the House, therefore, view point of opposition is amply represented in the committee and the government also clarifies its view point and the extent to which it can accommodate the opposition parties, by modifying the original proposal.
In fact, there have been several occasions when the original bill as placed in the House by the government has been modified at committee stage. The committees have proved their value and worth particularly in cases where highly technical matter are under the consideration of the House.
Some of the important committees of Lok Sabha are as mentioned below. But many of these, committees also exist in the Rajya Sabha as well. It may, however, be mentioned that whether it is committee of the Lok Sabha or that of the Rajya Sabha, decisions in all the committees are taken by majority of votes.
Committees of Lok Sabha:
The Lok Sabha in India has twelve committees, each one of these is constituted either for a period of one Year or for the whole life of it.
Business Advisory Committee is one such committee which regulates the business of the House. Since the time at the disposal of the House is very limited, therefore, the committee advises the Speaker what time should be allotted to each bill before the House depending upon its nature and importance.
This committee which consists of 15 members is formed at the beginning of each session and is presided over by the Speaker himself. In order to avoid criticism that an important bill has been given less time, leaders of the opposition parties in the House are associated with this committee.
Its task is becoming difficult day-by-day because opposition parties always like to have more lime which it is usually difficult to allocate. In addition, in the House many unexpected points are raised, which take much more time, than the expected one and the whole time schedule is required to be re-allocated.
In the process some matters which are proposed to be brought before the House find no time and the government is forced to issue ordinances, which are very widely criticised by the opposition parties. The committee on its own may also recommend to the government to bring forward particular subjects for discussion in the House and recommend time for such discussions.
In addition to Government Bills, there are other members in the House who wish to move their own Bills. No doubt no such Bill can see the light of the clay unless it has approval and support of the government yet in many cases these Bills prove a source of inspiration for the government for subsequent legislation.
The House has another committee, known as Committee on Private Members Bills and Resolutions which is nominated by the Speaker for a period of one year. It consists of 15 members.
It is the responsibility of this committee to advice which bills are more important than the others. Those which fall under the first category are considered for discussion in the House. This committee is important because such Bills which are considered less urgent or less important even have no chance of coming up for discussion in the Houses thus raising its time.
The Lok Sabha is a sovereign House. It frames its own Rules of Procedure for the Conduct of Business. These rules are final and cannot be questioned by any outside authority, not even by the courts of law.
The Rules Committee, from time to time goes through these rules and suggests necessary revisions in the light of experiences gained or difficulties confronted. The Speaker is himself chairman of this committee. Its strength has been fixed at 15. No Minister can be member of this committee.
From time to time people make petitions to the President, the Speaker and the government. These petitions either pin point certain grievances or irregularities or difficulties being experienced by them. In fact, a petition can be made on any subject. Some of the petitions are, of course, prima facie considered not worth examination.
These are based on miscalculations or erroneous facts. But there are several petitions which have serious contents and need looking into. Such petitions are referred to the Committee on Petitions. This committee which is constituted at the commencement of the House, can have no Minister as its member. It is also 15 member committee. It also suggests remedial measures.
From time to time House refers Bills to committees for collecting data and more information related to the Bills, than what is available to it. Each such Bill is referred to a Select Committee. Strength of each such committee depends on the nature of the Bill. It can be more as well as less.
The life of each such committee also depends on the nature of the Bill as also time which is given to it by the House. As soon as the Committee has finished its work it is dissolved. Therefore, no Select Committee has any fixed tenure or membership.
Under the constitution powers, privileges and immunities of Members of Parliament have been equated with those of the Member of House of Commons in England.
Quite often the members of the House raise issues wherein the privileges of the House or its individual members are alleged to have been violated either by a member of the House himself, or by the other House or by any outside agency including press and so on.
Once the Speaker has decided that there is a prima facie case which involves privilege of either of the House or its individual member, it is referred to the Committee of Privileges.
This Committee which has a strength of 15, is nominated by the Speaker at the commencement of the Lok Sabha. Usually Deputy Speaker is the member of this Committee and as such he presides over its meetings. It is the responsibility of this Committee to recommend to the Speaker whether any point of privilege is involved or not. In case there is breach of privilege, what type of punishment should be given to the guilty.
The task of this committee is considerably increasing because in every session several questions of privilege are referred to it. In addition, in the past on its recommendations several members of the House as well as others have been punished and brought on the floor of the House to receive reprimand from the Speaker on its behalf.
Work with each House of Parliament has increased so much that in spite of its best efforts and intentions, no House of Parliament can deal with its details. Therefore, what is done is that whereas the basic principle decided by the House, which gives policy guidelines, the details are left to the care of the executive government.
But at the same time it is the desire of the Parliament to ensure that the government is not usurping it of its powers. It is to see that the rules framed by the government are in keeping with the spirit of the laws.
This task is entrusted by the House to Committee on Subordinate Legislation. This 15 member Committee is nominated by the Speaker. No Minister can be the member of this committee. The task of this committee is important because it draws the attention of the House as to how far the government has tried to usurp its powers and enacted regulations which are not in keeping with the laws passed by it.
India has set before itself the task of establishing socialistic pattern of society and many public sector undertakings have been set up by the government since independence. There is wide criticism that these undertakings incur heavy losses and are not manned by competent persons.
In order to examine the working of these Undertakings, Committee on Public Undertakings is set up. This Committee includes members of both the Houses.
It consists of 22 members and in that 15 members are from the Lok Sabha and remaining 7 from the Rajya Sabha. The task of this committee is always on the increase, because more and more public undertakings are coming up.
In addition, the committee also points out all types of irregularities, including the financial ones, of each such undertaking. It is on the basis of the reports of this committee that government takes effective steps for improving the working of these undertakings.
During the course of discussions, on matters which come before the House, the government gives certain assurances. It is on the basis of these assurances that a bill is passed and the opposition is silenced. But it is to be seen that these assurances are not forgotten but fully implemented. For the purpose the House sets up a 15 member Committee on Government Assurances.
This committee is nominated by the Speaker for a period of one year. It is the responsibility of this committee to report to the House the extent to which assurances and promises given to the House have been implemented and in case these have not been, then what action need be taken so that these assurances are fully implemented.
It is on the recommendations of this committee that the House fixes a date by which the assurances given to the House should be met.
According to the Rules of the Lok Sabha as well as those of the Rajya Sabha, if a member of the House who remains absent from the sittings of the House continuously for a period of 60 days, without the permission of the House, loses his/her seat in the House. But there can be certain specific and genuine reasons which may compel a member to remain absent beyond 60 days.
This 15 members committee considers all such applications which are received in the House requesting permission of the House to remain absent beyond a period of sixty days.
This committee recommends whether seat of the member concerned should or should not be declared vacant and permission should or should not be granted to remain absent even beyond a period of 60 days. Members of this committee are nominated by the Speaker.
One very important Committee of the House is the Estimates Committee. From time to time wild criticism has been levied, both inside and outside the House, that the government departments spend extravagantly and that there are lots of delays in taking decisions.
It is also said that public servants are inefficient. This committee examines the methods of public expenditure and analyses whether public money is being properly used or not.
It also suggests ways and means by which economy can be effected and efficiency brought about in its working. It ensures that the money is being spent within policy frame work. It also suggests alternative means and methods for introducing administrative reforms. This committee also recommends the format in which estimates should be presented to the House, so that there is no difficulty in their understanding.
This committee consists of as many as 30 members who are elected on the basis of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote. The chairman of the committee is nominated by the Speaker but when Deputy Speaker is member of this committee, he is always its chairman.
Though the term of this committee is only for one year, yet in order to provide continuity, the members are re-elected year after year on it.
Public Accounts Committee includes members from both the Houses of Parliament. It has a total strength of 22 members, out of which 15 are from the Lok Sabha. In so far as members from the Rajya Sabha are concerned they have no voting right but are elected just as associate members.
The members of this committee are elected only for a period of one year but by convention are re-elected for another term of one year. Since the main task of the committee is to deal with financial matters, therefore, usually those persons are taken in this committee who have financial background.
Since it is one of the very important committees of the House, therefore, it is ensured that all political parties get representation on this committee.
The members of this committee are, therefore, elected on the basis of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote. Speaker of the Lok Sabha nominates one of the members of the committee, as its chairman, but when Deputy Speaker is the member of the Committee, he presides over the Committee meetings.
Under the constitution of India Comptroller and Auditor General of India has been given an independent and autonomous status. He is to see that each department of the government spends money according to certain well laid financial principles.
He audits the accounts of each department and presents his reports to the Lok Sabha for its consideration. These reports point out serious irregularities of each department, which need the attention of the House. These reports are examined by Pubic Accounts Committee.
The committee examines reports from several view points. It sees that the expenditure has not exceeded the provision made by the Lok Sabha and that the money is being spent for the purpose for which it has been allocated.
This is important because if the money is diversified to other items, then it means that the department has its own priorities than those approved by the Lok Sabha. It also finds out and points out how far and to which extent the executive government has committed financial irregularities and violated sound financial principles, which it was expected to follow.
The committee tries to find out whether the money provided for was wisely and economically spent or there was any laxity in spending.
The Committee makes suggestions for the improvement and economy in expenditure. In its deliberations it seeks the help of Comptroller and Auditor General. Its findings are placed before the House. In the past the committee has made very useful recommendations.
The very fact that the committee is in existence and is a powerful one too, has very deterrent effect on irregularities and every executive head tries to be economical and regular so that there is no facing of this committee.
A mention may also be made of Informal Consultative Committees. Each Ministry has an informal consultative committee of the Members of Parliament attached to it.
It is in this Committee that an informal atmosphere prevails and all criticism made as well as replied to is in a cordial atmosphere. The Minister in-charge is always in a receptive mood and quite prepared to accommodate the view point of the members to the extent possible.
In addition, there are some joint committees of both the Houses. The committees lay down broad principles or deal with matters with which both the Houses are equally concerned. Committee on Offices of Profit is one such committee.
Under the constitution no member of Parliament can hold an office of profit. But the problem is not so simple. What is ‘Profit’ and what is ‘office’ is of course one problem, but from time to time technical issues are raised dragging a position to an “office of Profit” and once it is accepted that a member concerned is even technically holding an office of profit, his seat is declared vacant.
The committees lay down for the guidance of all concerned certain principles indicating as to what is an office of profit, so that there are no subsequent difficulties. It consists of 15 members. It scrutinises from time to time Prevention of Disqualification Act, 1959 and recommends amendment to the Schedule whether by way of addition, omission or otherwise.
Then comes Committee on the Salary and Allowance of Members of Parliament. It consists of 15 members. Each member of Parliament is entitled to get some salary as well as certain allowances. But from time to time need is felt that these should be looked into, taking into consideration rising prices and demand on their time and money by the constituents.
The task of the committee becomes difficult because whereas there is a strong section which believes that in case a Member of Parliament is expected to discharge his duties honestly and properly he should be adequately paid, taking into consideration his social status and demand which is put on his economic resources by his constituents.
He is also to attend to written complain s and representations, etc. On the other hand there is another section, which believes that Members of Parliament cannot be a class by themselves.
Their salaries and allowances should be fixed taking into consideration economic conditions of the people and the society as a whole. In case they themselves go on voting every time higher salaries and allowances, they will bring themselves down in the eyes of the people. The Committee therefore, is always placed in a difficult situation of striking a balance between the two extremes.
Committee on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is another committee. It is the responsibility of this committee to see how far government’s policies and programmes are benefiting these castes and what new programmes should be started to benefit them.
This committee also brings out the difficulties which stand on the way of achieving the targets and makes recommendations for removing those difficulties, so that all programmes are effectively implemented.
The committee also suggests new directions in which government should strive so that the people of these castes quickly begin to flow in the national main stream. It consists of 30 members. In case member of a committee, after his nomination becomes a Minister he ceases to be the member of the committee from the date of his joining his ministerial position.
There is a Library Committee which consists of nine members, six from the Lok Sabha and three from the Rajya Sabha who are nominated by the presiding officers of their respective Houses. Deputy speaker is also one of its members.
Each member is appointed for a period of one year and Deputy Speaker is ex-officio Chairman of the committee. Casual vacancies in the committee are filled by the Presiding officer of the House, because of whose member the vacancy has fallen vacant.
It considers and advise on such matters which concern library as may be referred to it by the Speaker to it from time to time. It also considers and gives suggestions for the improvement of library and assists the members of Parliament in fully utilising services being provided by the library.
Any member can resign his seat from the committee any time. Presiding officer of either House to which the member belongs discharges a member from the committee, if such member is absent from two or more sittings thereof without the permission of the chairman of the committee. In other respects the general rules applicable to other committees of Parliament apply to this committee as well.
There is also a House Committee. It consists of 12 members. The committee is nominated by the Presiding officer of the Lok Sabha. Each member shall hold office for a period not exceeding one year. A member can, however, be re-nominated. Five members of the House constitute a quorum for the conduct of its business.
It is required to deal with all questions relating to residential accommodation for the members of the House and also exercises supervision over facilities for relating to accommodation, food, medical and other amenities to be provided to members at their residences and hotels in Delhi.
It is only an advisory body and its recommendations are only recommendations. The committee has a sub-committee called Accommodation Sub-Committee which consists of four members. Chairman of the House Committee is also Chairman of the Sub-Committee. The members of the Sub-Committee are nominated by the Chairman of the House committee from its members.
The Sub-Committee is required to advise on the allotment of residential accommodation to members. The Committee can appoint may appoint one or more sub-committees. The report of subcommittee is considered by the whole committee. An appeal against the decision of the House Committee or its Sub-Committee is to lie to the speaker whose decision shall be final.
General Purposes Committee is another committee of the Lok Sabha consists of Speaker, Deputy-Speaker and Panel of Chairmen, Chairmen of all parliamentary sub-committees, leaders of recognised parties and groups in the Lok Sabha and such other members as may be nominated by the Speaker, who is also ex-officio chairman of the committee from time to time.
It advises the Speaker on such matters concerning the affairs of the House as may be referred to it, by him. Normally general rules applicable to other parliamentary committees also apply to this committee as well, with such modifications which may be approved by the Speaker.
One more Committee of the House is Committee on Papers Laid on the Table of the House. It shall consist of 15 members, who shall be nominated for a period not exceeding one year.
It is required to examine all papers laid on the Table of the House by the Ministers and to report whether there has been compliance of the provisions of the constitution, Acts, etc., under which the paper has been laid and whether there has been any unreasonable delay and if so whether a statement explaining the reasons for delay has been laid on the Table of the House and whether the reasons explained are satisfactory or not.
Then it is the responsibility of this Committee to see whether or not a statement explaining reasons for not laying Hindi version have been satisfactorily given. The Committee is also required to perform such functions in respect of papers laid on Table as may be assigned to it by the Speaker from time to time.
Committees of the Rajya Sabha:
Rajya Sabha is upper House of Indian Parliament. It has set up of its committees, which deal with matters with which the House itself alone is concerned. In addition, there are joint committee in which the House has membership along with the members of the Lok Sabha. Mention may be made about some of the committees of the Rajya Sabha.
One of the committees of the Rajya Sabha is Business Advisory Committee which is nominated by the Chairman. Its membership among others includes Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the House. The former is also chairman of the committee as well. Its members hold office until a new committee is nominated.
In the absence of Chairman, Deputy Chairman presides over the meetings of the committee. If for any reason both of them are absent then the members of the committee select from among its members, one member who will preside over that meeting alone. The chairman shall fill every casual vacancy which may arise in the committee. Five members constitute quorum for the conduct of the business of the House.
It is the responsibility of this committee to recommend time that should be allocated for the discussion of government Bills at different stages on the one hand and private Members’ Bills and Resolutions on the other. It shall also discharge such other functions which may be assigned to it by the Chairman from time to time.
Its recommendations will be communicated to the Council by Chairman/Deputy Chairman and notified in Council’ Bulletin. No variation in time once approved by the Council shall be accepted except by the Chairman.
Like the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha also has a Committee of Privileges which consists of 10 members to be nominated by the Chairman, which shall d office till a new committee is nominated. Casual vacancies in the committee shall be filled by the Chairman.
The Chairman of the Committee shall be appointed by the Chairman from amongst its members. Five members shall constitute quorum of the committee for the conduct of its business.
The Committee shall examine every question referred to it and determine with reference to the facts of each case whether a breach of privilege is involved and if so the nature of breach, the circumstances leading to it and to make such recommendations as it may deem fit. It may also state procedure to be followed by the Council for giving effect to its recommendations.
It has power to required the attendance of persons or production of papers and records, if necessary for the discharge of its duties. The Committee shall meet from time to time and shall make a report within the time fixed by the Council.
The Report of the Committee shall be presented to the Chairman of the Council by the Chairman of the Committee. The Chairman may refer any question of privilege to the Committee of Privileges for examination, investigation and report.
One more committee of the Rajya Sabha is Committee on Subordinate Legislation which is required to scrutinise and report to the Council whether the power to make rules, resolutions, bye-laws, scheme or other statutory instruments conferred by the constitution or delegated by the Parliament have been property exercised within such conferment or delegation as the case may be.
The Committee shall consist of 15 members, which shall be nominated by the Chairman and shall hold office until a new committee is nominated. Casual vacancies in the Committee shall be filled by the Chapman. Chairman of the Committee shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Council from amongst its members.
Five members shall constitute the quorum for the transaction of the business. All decisions shall be taken by majority of votes and the Chairman shall have casting vote. The Committee shall have power to require the attendance of persons or production of papers or records, if such a course is considered necessary for the discharge of its duties.
The Committee shall consider whether every rule regulation, bye law is in accordance with the provisions of constitutions, Act, etc.,’to which it is made and whether the matter contained in these should more properly be dealt -with in an f Parliament.
It is also to examine whether the matter directly or indirectly ban the jurisdictions of the court or contains imposition of any tax or gives retrospective effect to any of the provisions in respect of which the constitution does not expressly give any such power.
If the Committee feels that any such rules, regulations, etc., should be w holly or in part annulled or should be amended in any respect, it shall report that and grounds thereof. The report of the Committee shall be reported to the Chairman of the Council by the Chairman of the Committee.
Still another committee of the Rajya Sabha, like that of the Lok Sabha is Committee on Government Assurances. Its main responsibility is to scrutinise the assurances, promises, undertakings, etc., given by Ministers from time to time on the floor of the House and to report on the extent to which such assurances, promises, undertakings, etc., have been implemented and when implemented.
Whether such implementation has taken place within minimum necessary time needed for the purpose.
The Committee shall consist of ten persons who shall be nominated by the Chairman and shall continue to hold office until a new committee is nominated. The Chairman of the Committee shall be nominated by the Chairman of the council from amongst the members of the Committee. Five members shall constitute quorum for the transaction of any business of the Committee.
The Committee has powers to take evidence or call for papers, records, documents, etc. The report shall be presented to the Council by the Chairman of the Committee. The Committee shall determine its own procedure for dealing with any matter under its consideration.
Like the Lok Sabha, there is also Committee on the Papers Laid on Table in the Rajya Sabha as well. The Committee is to see whether the paper laid on the Table of the Council has compliance with the provisions of the constitution or Act of Parliament, etc., in pursuance of which the paper has been laid.
It is also to see whether there has been any unreasonable delay in laying the paper before the Council and if so reasons explained for delay are satisfactory. It is also to see whether the paper has been laid both in English and Hindi, if not, why?
The Committee shall consist of ten members who shall be nominated by the chairman and shall continue to hold office till a new committee is nominated. Like other committees of the House for this Committee also it is provided that chairman of the committee shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Council from amongst the members of the committee.
Five members shall constitute quorum of the committee for the transaction of any business. The committee shall have power to call for papers, records, documents and take evidence. The report of the Committee shall be presented to the Council by the Chairman of the Committee.
The Rajya Sabha also has a Committee on Petitions, which shall be constituted from time to time by the chairman. It shall consists of 10 members who shall be nominated by him and shall hold office till a new committee is nominated. Five members constitute a quorum of the committee. The Chairman of the committee from amongst its members shall be nominated by the Chairman of the Council.
Every petition shall, after presentation by a member or report by the Secretary General, as the case may be, stand referred to the Committee on Petitions. It will examine every petition referred to its, and if the petition complies with the rules, the committee may in its discretion direct that it may be circulated.
The Committee shall report to the Council stating the subject matter of the petition, etc., and whether it is in conformity with the rules or not It is also required to suggest remedial measures either in a concrete form applicable to the case under review or to prevent such cases in future. The report of the Committee shall be presented to the Chairman of the Council by the Chairman of the Committee.
The Rajya Sabha also constitutes Selects Committees on Bills. It is provided in the rules that the members of a select committee on a Bill shall be appointed by the Council, when a motion that a bill be referred to the Select Committee is made. The mover shall ascertain whether a member proposed to by ‘him is willing to serve on the Committee.
The Chairman of the Committee shall be appointed by the Chairman from amongst the members of the committee, one-third of the total membership of the Committee shall constitute the quorum. All the decisions shall be taken by majority of votes but in case of equality of vote the Chairman of the Committee shall have casting vote.
The select committee may a point a sub-committee to examine any special points connected with the Bill. The meetings of the Select Committee shall be held on such days and at such hours as the chairman of the committee may fix. No sitting of the Committee shall be held outside the precincts of the House.
The Select Committee shall have power to require the attendance of persons or production of papers or record, if such a course is considered necessary for the discharge of its duties. Procedure has also been laid down in the rules for examining witnesses and printing and publication of evidence.
The Chairman is empowered to give directions to the chairman of the committee as he may consider necessary for regulating its procedure and the organisation of its work.
The rules also provide that a record of the decisions of a Select Committee shall be maintained and circulated to the members of the Committee under the directions of chairman of Select Committee. The Committee shall make a report on the Bill within the time fixed by the Council. It shall be addressed to the Council by the Chairman of the Select Committee.
The Secretary General shall cause every report of the select Committee to be printed and a copy of the report shall be made available for use to every member of the council. Procedure has also been laid down after presentation of the Report of Select/Joint Committee.
Standing Departmental Committees:
Budget of the country is annually presented to the Parliament for its approval, but time at its disposal is so short that demands and activities of each Ministry/Department and autonomous bodies cannot be scrutinised at all.
There was, therefore, a demand from all quarters that activities, proposals and performances of each Ministry should be more carefully scrutinised and the Parliament should be provided, more time for that. Accordingly, on March 29, 1993, the Lok Sabha decided and adopted an unanimous motion for the setting up of the standing committee for examining grants and reports of all departments.
The underlying idea was that there should be better and more effective parliamentary control over the functioning of the executive. Though the proposal was under consideration for the last many years, yet it received final nod because of keen interest of Speaker Shivraj Patil in it.
He felt that the system will provide better control of Parliament over the working of all government departments on the one hand and reduce the burden of business of Parliament on the other. The proposal also was approved by the Rajya Sabha.
Accordingly 17 standing committees each consisting of 30 members of the Lok Sabha and 15 of the Rajya Sabha were set up to examine in detail grants and other proposals relating to functioning of various departments.
The system started on April 1, 1993 with the hope that the new system would promote intelligent participation of the members in the working of Parliament who will be members of these committees. Not only this but there will be better examination, functioning, execution and understanding of the problems and difficulties faced by various government departments.
The whole idea is to have effective parliamentary control over the executive because the committees will be in a position to discuss budgetary demands of each Ministry in greater details and its actual working as well up.
The following Committees have accordingly beet set:
According to procedure laid down after the Budget has been presented and some preliminary discussions have taken place, the Parliament is adjourned for about a month, when the committees mentioned above meet to examine Budget proposals of their concerned Ministries.
Demands for grants for each Ministry or department are scrutinised and a report is prepared for the consideration of the Parliament. Demands of each Ministry in both the Houses of Parliament are discussed on the basis of these reports. But numbers of sittings of Parliament are not curtailed.
The committee scrutinises annual grants of each Ministry, examines in details its performance and goes into details for justification of supplementary grants. Thus, Budget proposals are discussed at considerable length. No committee is to interfere in the affairs of any other committee. No Minister can be member of any committee.