Copyright infringement not intended
Context: Opposition leaders and critics have labelled Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankar's decision to "attach" eight of his staff to eight departmental standing committees and 12 parliamentary standing committees as "illegal" and an act of "institutional suppression."
- The vice president and chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Jagdeep Dhankhar, has eight officers on his personal staff who have been "attached" to 12 standing committees and eight department-related standing committees of Parliament, drawing criticism from the opposition.
Significance of the step
- 'The main objective is to complement the staff and officer support to the individual committees' a vice president's office representative stated.
- These steps will aid in providing research to the committees and exposing personnel to the various sides of the Rajya Sabha.
Why these appointments are criticised?
- There is no rule that allows the Speaker or the Chairman to designate members of their own staff to help the committees. According to constitutional scholars, it is evident from the description of a parliamentary committee that it consists exclusively of members (MPs) and staff who work for the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha secretariat. Parliamentary secretariats do not include the personal employees of the Speaker or the Chairman. Such appointments have not been made thus far.
- These representatives' jobs entail informing the Rajya Sabha Secretary General of new developments and committee discussions. As a result, many opponents saw this action as a supposed effort by the Centre to carefully watch legislative committees.
- A Parliamentary Committee is a body of MPs that are appointed or elected by the House or nominated by the Speaker/Chairman. It operates under the Speaker's or Chair's supervision and delivers its report to the House or the Speaker or Chair.
- Origin: Parliamentary Committees have their origins in the British parliament. They draw their authority from;
- Article 105, deals with the privileges of MPs.
- Article 118, gives Parliament authority to make rules to regulate its procedure and conduct of business.
- Significance: The issues presented before the Parliament cannot be properly discussed. The Parliament is responsible for carrying out a wide variety of tasks. It also lacks the time and expertise to fully research every legislation and other issues. As a result, many committees assist it in fulfilling its duties.
- These committees are mentioned in the Indian Constitution several times, but no detailed rules for their membership, terms of office, or other duties are mentioned. All these matters are dealt with by the rules of two Houses.
- A parliamentary committee means a committee that:
- 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 the Speaker / Chairman.
- Has a secretariat provided by the Lok Sabha / Rajya Sabha.
- The consultative committees, which also consist of members of Parliament, are not parliamentary committees as they do not fulfil the above four conditions. Parliamentary committees are of two kinds;
- Standing Committees - Permanent (constituted every year or periodically) and work continuously.
- Ad Hoc Committees - Temporary and cease to exist on completion of the task assigned to them.
- Standing Committees: Standing committees can be classified into the following 6 categories:
- Financial Committees: Public Accounts Committee, Estimates Committee, Committee on Public Undertakings.
- Departmental Standing Committees (24)
- Committees to Inquire: Committee on Petitions, Committee on Privileges, Ethics Committee.
- Committees to Scrutinise and Control: Committee on Government Assurances, Committee on Welfare of SCs and STs, Committee on Empowerment of Women, Joint Committee on Offices of Profit.
- Committees Relating to the Day-to-Day Business of the House: Business Advisory Committee, Committee on Private Members’ Bills and Resolutions, and Rules Committee.
- Ad Hoc Committees
- Ad hoc committees can be divided into two categories: Inquiry Committees and Advisory Committees.
- Inquiry Committees are constituted from time to time, either by the two Houses on a motion adopted on that behalf or by the Speaker / Chairman, to inquire into and report on specific subjects.
- Advisory Committees include select or joint committees on bills, which are appointed to consider and report on particular bills.
Departmental Standing Committees
- On the recommendation of the Rules Committee of the Lok Sabha, 17 Departmentally-Related Standing Committees (DRSCs) were set up in Parliament in 1993.
- In 2004, seven more such committees were set up, thus increasing their number from 17 to 24.
- The main objective of the standing committees is to secure more accountability of the Executive (the Council of Ministers) to the Parliament. They also assist the Parliament in debating the budget more effectively.
- Each standing committee consists of 31 members (21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha). The members of the Lok Sabha are nominated by the Speaker, and the members of the Rajya Sabha are nominated by the Chairman.
- A minister is not eligible to be nominated as a member of any of the standing committees.
- The term of office of each standing committee is one year from the date of its constitution.
- Out of the 24 standing committees, 8 work under the Rajya Sabha and 16 under the Lok Sabha.
- The functions of each of the standing committees are:
- To consider the demands for grants of the concerned ministries/ departments before they are discussed and voted in the Lok Sabha.
- To examine bills about the concerned ministries/departments.
- To consider annual reports of ministries/departments.
- The recommendations of these committees are advisory and hence not binding on the Parliament.
Q. Consider the following Statement;
1. Parliamentary Committees are not mentioned in the Indian Constitution.
2. Consultative committees are not Parliamentary Committees.
3. All Departmental Standing Committees (DRSCs) work under Lok Sabha.
Which of the following Statement is/are incorrect?
(A) 1 and 2 only
(B) 2 and 3 only
(C) 1 and 3 only
(D) 1, 2 and 3
Statement 1 is incorrect: Parliamentary Committees are mentioned in the Indian Constitution several times, but no detailed rules for their membership, terms of office, or other duties are mentioned. All these matters are dealt with by the rules of two Houses.
Statement 2 is correct: The consultative committees, which also consist of members of Parliament, are not parliamentary committees.
Statement 3 is incorrect: Out of the 24 standing committees, 8 work under the Rajya Sabha and 16 under the Lok Sabha.