Significance of Parliamentary Committees

The opposition parties have questioned the hurry with which the government is pushing for bills for the approval in parliament without subjecting them to the scrutiny of the parliamentary committees.

Why the Parliament Committees are Important for the Democracy?

Law Making
  • Parliament is vested with the responsibility of legislating the laws for the country.
  • But due to the volume of legislative business, discussing all Bills under the consideration of Parliament in detail on the floor of the House is impossible. This is where the parliamentary committees come in.
  • These parliamentary committees provide platforms for threadbare discussion on a proposed law.
  • The parliamentary committee is a smaller cohort of lawmakers, assembled on the basis of the proportional strength of individual parties and interests and expertise of individual lawmakers, would be more open, intensive and undertakes better-informed discussions.
  • Since the parliamentary meetings are held in closed-door, members are not bound by party whips. This allows leverage for a more meaningful exchange of views as against discussions in full and open Houses where the grandstanding and party positions invariably take precedence.
  • Due to disruptive changes in technology and the expansion of trade, commerce and economy, lawmaking is becoming increasingly complex. Lawmakers cannot infinitely expand their knowledge into ever-expanding areas of human activities. The Parliamentarians would require the assistance of experts in dealing with such situations. The Parliamentary provides one such opportunity.
Holding Executive Accountable
  • Parliament provides an opportunity to hold the executive accountable through questions and discussions.
  • The Departmental Standing Committees goes one step further and interacts with senior officials of the government in a closed setting. This allows for more detailed discussions.
  • This mechanism enables parliamentarians to understand the executive processes closely. Hence it can be training ground for future Ministers.

Constitutional Provisions and the Origin

The origin of parliamentary committees can be traced to Britain which established the first Parliamentary Committee in 1571.

In India, the Parliamentary committees draw their authority from Article 105 (on privileges of Parliament members) and Article 118 (on Parliament’s authority to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business).

The first Public Accounts Committee was constituted in India in April 1950. The practice of regularly referring bills to committees began in 1989 after government departments started forming their own standing committees. Prior to this the bills were scrutinised by the joint committees or select committees specially constituted for the purpose.

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