Published on July 9, 2022 at 21:12 IST
Parliament as a Body:
Bhāratīya Sansad aka Parliament of India is the supreme legislative body of the Republic of India. It is a bicameral legislature composed of the President of India and the two houses:
- The Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and
- The Lok Sabha (House of the People).
The President in his role as head of legislature has full powers to summon and prorogue either house of Parliament or to dissolve Lok Sabha. The president can exercise these powers only upon the advice of his Union Council of Ministers and the Prime Minister.
- The Type of Indian Parliament is Bicameral
- Two Houses: Rajya Sabha (Upper house), Lok Sabha (Lower house)
- Established on the date of 26 January 1950 (71 years ago)
- It is Preceded by The Constituent Assembly of India
- Current President is Ram Nath Kovind (since 25 July 2017)
- Current Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is Venkaiah Naidu (since 11 August 2017)
- Current Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is Harivansh Narayan Singh, JDU (since 14 September 2020)
- Current Leader of the House (Rajya Sabha) is Thawar Chand Gehlot, BJP (since 11 June 2019)
- Current Leader of the Opposition (Rajya Sabha) is Ghulam Nabi Azad, INC (since 8 June 2014)
- Current Speaker of the Lok Sabha is Om Birla, BJP (since 19 June 2019)
- The place of Current Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha’s is Vacant (since 23 May 2019)
- Current Leader of the House (Lok Sabha) is Narendra Modi, BJP (since 26 May 2014)
- Place for Current Leader of the Opposition (Lok Sabha) is Vacant (Since 26 May 2014 as no party has 10% Seats)
- Total Seats 788 of which 245 Members of Rajya Sabha and 543 Members of Lok Sabha
Parliamentary committees are formed to ease the decision-making process and deliberate specific matters at length. The public is directly or indirectly associated, researches and studies are conducted to help committees arrive at the conclusions. Parliamentary committees are of two kinds:
- Ad hoc committees and
- the Standing committees.
Standing committees are permanent in nature and constituted from time to time in pursuance of the provisions of an act of Parliament or rules of procedure and conduct of business in Parliament. The work of these committees is of a continuing nature.
Ad hoc committees are of temporary nature and appointed for a specific purpose and they cease to exist when they finish the task assigned to them and submits a report.
List of Indian parliamentary committees
The Parliamentary committees are formed and established to study and deal with numerous matters that cannot be directly handled by the legislature and ministers due to their volume. They also see through the functioning of the executive branch.
Varied, complex and voluminous work
Neither the adequate time nor necessary expertise
Number of Committees with experts
The constitution of India makes a mention of these committees at different places, but without making any specific provisions regarding the tenure, composition, functions, etc.
All these matters are dealt by the rules of Rajya Sabha & Lok Sabha.
Parliamentary Committees Conditions:
- Is appointed or elected by the House or nominated by the Speaker/Chairman
- Works under the direction of the Speaker/Chairman
- Presents its report to the House or to the Speaker/Chairman
- Has a secretariat provided by the Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha
The Consultative/Advisory Committees, which also consist of members of Parliament, are not parliamentary committees as they do not fulfil above four conditions.
Types of Parliamentary Committees:
- Financial Committees:
- Public Accounts Committee
- Origin: 1921- Government of India Act, 1919
- 22 members in total (15 from Lok Sabha and 7 from Rajya Sabha)
- Tenure 1 year
- Members elected by proportional representation- single transferable vote
- Ministers cannot be elected
- Chairman elected by Speaker
- It examines the appropriation accounts and the finance accounts of the Union Government and any other accounts laid before the Lok Sabha. It appropriates accounts compare the actual expenditure with the expenditure with the expenditure sanctioned by the Parliament through the Appropriation Act, while the finance accounts show the annual receipts and disbursements of the Union Government.
- It Scrutinises the appropriation accounts and the audit report of CAG on it, the committee must satisfy itself that the money that has been disbursed was legally available for the applied service or purpose, the expenditure conforms to the authority that governs it and every re-appropriation has been made in accordance with the related rules.
- It examines the accounts of autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies, the audit of which is conducted by CAG.
- It examines the accounts of state corporations, trading concerns and manufacturing projects and the audit report of CAG on them (except those public undertakings which are allotted to the committee on Public Undertakings.
- It considers the report of CAG relating to the audit of any receipt or to examine the accounts of stores and stocks.
- It also examines the money spent on any ser vice during a financial year in excess of the amount of the amount granted by the Lok Sabha.
- The committee assists CAG and in fact CAG acts as a guide, friend and philosopher of the committee.
Effectiveness of the role of the Committee is limited by:
- It’s not concerned with the question of policy in broader sense.
- It conducts a post-mortem examination of accounts (showing the expenditure already incurred)
- It cannot intervene in the matters of day-to-day administration.
- Its recommendation is advisory and not binding on the ministries.
- It is not vested with the power of disallowance of expenditures by the departments.
- It is not an executive body and hence, cannot issue an order. Only the parliament can take a final decision on its findings.
- Estimates Committee
- Origin: 1921- First Post-Independence- 1950 on recommendation of John Mathai
- Originally 25 members but after 1956- 30 members (all from Lok Sabha)
- Elected by Proportional representation- single transferable vote
- Tenure 1 year
- Ministers cannot be elected
- It reports what economies, improvements in organisation, efficiency and administrative reform consistent with the policy underlying the estimates, can be affected.
- It suggests alternative policies in order to bring about efficiency and economy in administration.
- It examines whether the money is well laid out within the limits of the policy implied in the estimates.
- It suggests the form in which the estimates are to be presented to the Parliament.
- The committee from time to time selects the estimates pertaining to a ministry or department of the central government or such of the statutory and other bodies of the central government as may seem fit to the committee. The committee also examines matters of special interest which may arise in the course of its work or which are specially referred to it by the house or by the speaker. The committee calls for preliminary materials from the relevant bodies in regard to the subjects selected for examination and also comments from non-officials connected with the subjects for the use of the members of the committee.
- The committee does not exercise its functions in relation to such public sector undertakings as are allotted to the Committee on Public Undertakings by the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of Lok Sabha or by the speaker.
- Committee on Public Undertakings
- Origin: 1 May 1964; 56 years ago
- Consists of twenty-two members, fifteen elected by Lok Sabha and not more than seven members of Rajya Sabha.
- Tenure 1 year
- A minister is not eligible to become a member of the committee
- It examines the reports and accounts of public undertakings specified in the fourth Schedule to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
- It examines the reports, if any, of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on the Public Undertakings.
- It examines, in the context of the autonomy and efficiency of the Public Undertakings whether the affairs of the Public Undertakings are being managed in accordance with sound business principles and prudent commercial practices.
- The committee from time to time takes up for examination as such any PSU or subjects related to them as they may deem fit and which are within their terms of reference. The dep or Undertaking concerned is asked to furnish necessary material relating to those subjects for information of the Members of the Committee. The Committee may from time to time appoint one or more Study Groups for carrying out detailed examination of various subjects.
- Departmental Standing Committees:
The Departmental Standing Committees originated during the year 1989 in 8th Lok Sabha the ‘Committee of Rules’ approved and considered a proposal that 3 subject committees, on
- Environment & Forests; and
- Science & Technology.
The rules relating to these committees were finally approved and sanctioned by the House and the committees were formally and officially constituted w.e.f. 18 August 1989.
The Committees of Reports of Rules in the 10th Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha adopted by the both the Houses on 29 March 1993 made a way for the setting up of the 17 departmentally related standing committees covering under their jurisdiction all the Departments/Ministries of the Union Government.
These Departmental Standing Committees replaced the former 3 subject committees constituted in August 1989. The 17 departmentally related standing committees were formally constituted w.e.f. April 1993. After experiencing the working of the Departmental Standing Committees, system for over a long period of time, the system was re-structured in July 2004 wherein the number of Departmental Standing Committees were increased from 17 to 24. Till the 13th Lok Sabha, each of these standing committees used to consist of 45 members- 30 from Lok Sabha and 15 from Rajya Sabha. However, with re-structuring of Departmental Standing Committees in July 2004 each Departmental Standing Committees consists of 31 members- 21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha.
- Committee on Agriculture
- Committee on Chemicals and Fertilizers
- Committee on Coal and Steel
- Committee on Commerce
- Committee on Defence
- Committee on Energy
- Committee on External Affairs
- Committee on Finance
- Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution
- Committee on Health and Family Welfare
- Committee on Home Affairs
- Committee on Human Resource Development
- Committee on Industry
- Committee on Information Technology
- Committee on Labour
- Committee on Personnel, Public Governances, Law and Justice
- Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas
- Committee on Railways
- Committee on Rural Development
- Committee on Science & Technology and Environment & Forests
- Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment
- Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture
- Committee on Urban Development
- Committee on Water Resources
- Committees to Inquiry:
- Committees on Petitions
- Origin: year 1933
- The membership of the Committee continued to be 5 till the year 1964 when it was increased to 10, and since then the Committee continues to be composed of 15 members.
- The Committee is constituted under Rule 147 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Rajya Sabha.
- It handles Bills which had been published in the Official Gazette of India or which had been introduced in any of the House or in respect of which notice of a motion had been received under those rules or
- Matters connected with the business pending before the House. The functions of the Committee are thus limited.
- The Committee used to recommend only the circulation of the petitions in extenso or in a summary form, for the information of the members so that the members could, if they so desired, pursue the points mentioned in the petition and influence the course of the Bill in the House.
- Since 1964, when the Rules of Procedure of Rajya Sabha were revised, the scope of the Committee was enlarged. Under the revised Rules, petitions could also be presented on any matter of general public interest if it is not one —
(a) which falls within the cognizance of a court of law having jurisdiction in any part of India or a court of enquiry or a statutory tribunal or authority or quasi-judicial body or Commission;
(b) which raises matters which are not primarily the concern of the Government of India;
(c) which can be raised on a substantive motion or resolution; or
(d) for which remedy is available under the law including rules, regulations or byelaws made by the Central Government or by an authority to whom power to make such rules, regulations or byelaws is delegated.
- The Committee has ample powers not only to make recommendations about specific complaints contained in the petition but also to suggest remedial measures either in a concrete form applicable to the case under consideration or to prevent recurrence of such cases in future.
- The approach of the Committee is always unbiased, non-partisan and constructive. The Report of the Committee is presented to Rajya Sabha by the Chairman of the Committee or in his absence, by any member of the Committee so authorised by the Committee.
- Committees of Privileges
- The Chairman of the Committee shall be appointed by the Chairman from amongst the members of the Committee.
- The Committee of Privileges shall have power to require the attendance of persons or the production of papers or records, if such a course is considered necessary for the discharge of its duties:
- Provided that if any question arises whether the evidence of a person or the production of a document is relevant for the purposes of the Committee, the question shall be referred to the Chairman, whose decision shall be final:
- Provided further that Government may decline to produce a document on the ground that its disclosure would be prejudicial-to the safety or interest of the State.
- Subject to the provisions of this rule, a witness may be summoned by an order signed by the Secretary General and shall produce such documents as are required for the use of the Committee.
- It shall be in the discretion of the Committee to treat any evidence tendered before it as secret or confidential.
- Ethics Committee:
If any member of the house shows indiscipline, misconducts or is involved in the moral turpitude then this committee acts upon that and decides suitable action.
- Committees to Scrutinise and Control:
- Committee on Government Assurance
Whenever a minister makes any, assurance or promise, or take any undertaking in the Lok Sabha; this committee examines the extent of such assurances, promises and undertakings carried through by him/her. It has 15 members in Lok Sabha and 10 members in Rajya Sabha
- Committee on Subordinate Legislation
It examines whether the executives are exercising well, their powers to make regulations, rules, regulations, sub-rules and byelaws delegated by the Parliament or conferred by the Constitution. In both the houses, it comprises 15 members.
- Committee on Papers Laid on the Table
When ministers lay any paper on the table, this committee scrutinizes the credibility and the nature of that paper and if that paper complies with all the provision of the constitution. It has 15 members in Lok Sabha and 10 members in Rajya Sabha.
- Committee on Welfare of Schedule Casts and Schedule Tribes
It consists of 30 members of which 20 are taken from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha. Reports of National Commission for SCs and National Commission for STs are considered by this committee.
- Committee on Employment of Women
The report of National Commission for Women is considered by this committee.
- Joint Committee on Offices of Profit
This committee examines the composition and character of committees and other bodies appointed by the Central Government, State Government and Union Territory Government and recommends and suggests whether or not persons holding these offices should be disqualified from being elected as members of Parliament.
- Committees Relating to the Day-to-Day Business of the House:
- Business Advisory Committee:
It regulates the timetable of the house and keep it in order and decorum.
- Committee on Private Members’ Bills and Resolutions:
It classifies and allocates bills & time for the through discussion on the bills and resolutions introduced by private members.
- Rules Committee:
If any amendment in the rules of the house is needed, then this committee makes a proposal.
- Committee on Absence of Members from Sittings of the House:
All the leave applications of the members of the houses are taken up and considered/rejected by this committee.
- House-Keeping Committees:
- General Purposes Committee:
Matters that aren’t looked by any other parliamentary committees are taken up and considered by this committee. The members of this committee comprise :
- Presiding officer (Speaker/Chairman) as its ex-officio chairman
- Deputy Speaker (Deputy Chairman in the case of Rajya Sabha)
- Members of the panel of chairpersons (panel of vice-chairpersons in the case of Rajya Sabha)
- Chairpersons of all the departmental standing committees of the House
- Leaders of recognised parties and groups in the House and,
- Other members as nominated by the presiding officer
The facilities given to the members of the houses in the name of food, residences, medical aid, etc are supervised by this committee.
The libraries of both the Houses and the amenities and services attached with it are managed by this committee.
These committees can be proposed by both the houses or can also be appointed by the speaker/chairman of the respective house. Few examples of Inquire Committees are:
- Joint Committee on Particular Contract
- Joint Committee on Fertilizer Pricing
- Joint Committee to Enquire into Irregularities in Securities and Banking Transactions
- Joint Committee on Stock Market Scam, etc.
These committees can either be select or joint committees and are appointed for the matters of bills. They report on specific bills. They are very different from the inquiry committees as the procedure and alignment that they follow are laid down in the Rules of Procedure and are also directed by the Lok Sabha speaker or Rajya Sabha chairman.
Whenever a bill is introduced in either house, they refer it to the select committee which scrutinizes it clause-by-clause.