Committee System in Indian Parliament
The Committee System plays a vital role in the field of legislation. In modern times, the work of legislature has become complicated. Parliament has been overburdened with work. It has neither time nor thought to deal with all kinds of bills efficiently. Therefore, the Legislature makes use of the Committees. They consider and examine the bills referred to them. Committees consist of expert legislators. It can give its valuable opinion to the legislature.
Indian Parliament, like its counterpart in other democratic countries, performs the business of legislation through several Committees. Our Parliamentary Committees have been formed on the British model. In spite of this, Committees of Indian Parliament have departed from the British system and drifted towards Congressional ones, but have not attained the status of the latter.
In India, a large number of Parliamentary Committees has been set up to help both Houses to discharge the law-making functions in a speedy and efficient manner. The House of the People (Lok Sabha) alone has twelve such Committees. The Important Committees of Indian Parliament may be discussed below:
1. Business Advisory Committees: It consists of 15 members. They are appointed by the Speaker for one year. The leaders of the different political parties are actively associated with this Committee. The Speaker acts as the Chairman of the Committee. The main business of this Committee is to control the time-table of the House. The Committee may also make recommendations as to how much time should be given for the discussion of the various stages of a bill. The Business Advisory Committee submits a unanimous report to the House which the latter also adopts in tote.
2. Select Committees: These Committees are constituted when a motion that the said bill be referred to a Select Committee is passed by the House. The actual number of Select Committees is not fixed. The Committees are formed as and when required by the house for the examination of bills. The members of the Select Committees are elected or appointed by the House. The Speaker selects a member of the House to act as the Chairman of the Committee. The Committee examines the bill clause by clause. It may make substantial amendments on the bill. The Committee then submits its report to the House.
3. Joint Committees: These Committees help the House to perform the business of legislation smoothly. The joint Committee consists of members of both House of Parliament. It avoids duplication of legislation and thereby saves time of Parliament.
4. Committees on Private Member’s bill: This Committee is composed of 15 members. The Speaker nominates the members for a period of one year. The Deputy Speaker is the Chairman of Committee. The main function of the Committee is to examine those bills which are introduced by the Private Members of the House. Further, the Committee sorts out such bills according to their contents, urgency and importance.
5. Committee on Petitions: The Speaker appoints the members of this Committee for one year. Ministers are not its members. It is formed at the commencement of the House. The Committee examines the petitions submitted to the House by the People. The Committee takes proper evidence in each case and can suggest remedies to the House.
6. Committee on Privileges: This Committee is composed of 15 members. They are nominated by the Speaker. The Committee examines all cases of breach of privileges of the House. It then submits its report to the House.
7. Rules Committee: It, too, consists of fifteen members appointed by the Speaker for one year who is its Chairman. According to the Constitution of India, each House of Parliament makes rules for regulating one conduct of its business. The Committee examines those rules and can also make recommendations for changes in them.
8. Committee on Subordinate Legislation: It, too, consists of 15 members. They are nominated by the Speaker for one year. Ministers are not allowed to serve in this Committee. The Committee works through various Sub-Committees. The main function of the Committee is to examine whether the delegated legislation is properly exercised in accordance with the rules and regulations conferred by the Constitution.
9. Estimates Committee: The Estimates Committee has been set up in 1952. It consists of 30 members. They are elected for one year. The chief function of the Committee is to consider the estimates or expenditure submitted to the Lok Sabha. It carefully examines the estimates of the different departments of Government. It can suggest recommendations for economy. However, the Committee does not deal with the general policy of the Government, relating to the proposed expenditure. The Committee then submits recommendations to the House.
10. Committee on Government Assurance: This Committee of Lok Sabha has no parallel in the British House of Commons. It is an Indian invention. This Committee is composed of 15 members appointed by the Speaker for one year. The math business of the Committee is to see whether the assurances given by the ministers from time to time have been implemented. It also submits its report to the House.
11. Committee on Absence of Members from the sitting of House: The Speaker appoints for one year the Members (12) of this committee. The main function of the Committee is to examine the leave applications of those members of the House who have been absent for 60 days or more.
12. Public Accounts Committee: It is an important Committee of Indian Parliament. To Pylee, “The Public Accounts Committee is the twin brother of the Estimates Committee.” The Public Accounts Committee consists of 22 members of whom 15 are elected from Lok Sabha and 7 from Rajya Sabha. Their tenure is one year only. The Committee must have to satisfy itself that the public money has been spent by the different departments in accordance with the laws of Parliament. It also examines the report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General. The Committee in its report to the Lok Sabha points out the irregularities of different ministers and suggests remedial measures.
In India, the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) has also several Committees, viz., Business Advisory Committee, Committee on Petitions, Committee on Privileges, Rules Committee, and Select Committee on Bills etc. The composition and functions of these Committees are more or less similar to those of the House of the People (Lok Sabha).
To conclude, most of the Committees are concerned with the internal problems of the Houses. The Select Committee, however, deals with the law-making business of parliament. The estimates Committee and Public Accounts Committee control the government expenditure.
Nevertheless, the parliamentary Committees in India play an important role in the field of legislation. Committees relieve the Parliament of its burden. They also, save time and give expert opinion on the subject. Hence the Committees have been rightly described as “little legislature”.