Explain the structure of the Parliamentary Committee system. How far have the financial committees helped in the institutionalisation of Indian Parliament?

Model Answer

Introduction

The Indian constitution mentions the committees in many places but provides no specific provisions about their composition, tenure, or functions.

Body

Parliamentary committees are broadly two types –

  • Standing committees
  1. Financial committee:
    • Public Accounts Committee:  It consists of 22 members ( 15 from Lok Sabha and 7 from Rajya Sabha )
    • Estimates Committee:  All the 30 members are from Lok Sabha only.
    • Committee on Public Undertakings It consists of 22 members ( 15 from Lok Sabha 7 from Rajya Sabha)
  1. Departmental Standing Committees: There are a total of 24 Departmental Standing Committees:- 8 under Rajya Sabha and 16 under Lok Sabha.
  2. Committees to inquire includes committee on Petitions, Committee on privilege and Ethics committee.
  3. Committee to scrutinise and control includes 6 types of committees like committee on women empowerment and SC/ST empowerment.
  4. Committee on Day-to-day business includes Business advisory committee , Rules committee etc.
  • Ad hoc committees: These committees can be divided into two categories; they are temporary in nature.
    • Inquiry committees
    • Advisory committees

Institutionalisation by Financial Committee:

  • Establishing Financial accountability: Ex PAC Highlighted corrupt practices were followed in awarding several contracts in commonwealth games.
  • Increasing financial efficiency: Ex: Estimate committee noted High extraction cost involved in mining makes it unviable as compared to imported uranium. 
  • Checking delay in Projects: Committee on Public Undertaking recommended that no project should be initiated unless 80% of land is already acquired by NHAI, and the required environmental and forest clearances are obtained.
  • Bringing Opposition in discussion through the representation in PAC and Estimate committee.

Challenges:

  • It examines the expenditure which has already been done by the Government.
  • The committees have no power to limit the expenses.
    The recommendations are advisory in nature and are not binding on the Government.
  • They do not have mandate to examine the policy in the broader sense. 
  • Usually, the PAC members are generalists, and CAG’s reports require independent expert evaluation in the simplest of terms.

Conclusion

NCRWC has recommended that major reports of all Committees should be discussed in Parliament especially in cases where there is disagreement between a committee and the government. The recommendations of the PACs should be accorded greater weight and they should be treated as the “conscience-keepers of the nation in financial matters.”

Video Discussion:

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