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What is a Departmentally Related Standing Committee & Ad Hoc Committee?
Oct 10, 2022
Our today's edition of Current Affairs is here. Read to know about What is a Departmentally Related Standing Committee & Ad Hoc Committee to upgrade your UPSC CSE preparation.
What are Standing Committees of the Parliament? How are they different from Ad Hoc committees of the Parliament?
Recently, Parliamentary Standing Committees were revamped.
About Departmentally Related Standing Committees
Seventeen Departmentally Related Standing Committees came into being in 1993, when Shivraj Patil was Speaker of Lok Sabha, to examine budgetary proposals and crucial government policies.
The aim was to increase Parliamentary scrutiny, and to give members more time and a wider role in examining important legislation.
The number of Committees was subsequently increased to 24.
There are 16 Departmentally Related Standing Committees for Lok Sabha and eight for Rajya Sabha.
Among the important Lok Sabha panels are: Agriculture; Coal; Defense; External Affairs; Finance; Communications & Information Technology; Labor; Petroleum & Natural Gas; and Railways. The important Rajya Sabha panels include Commerce; Education; Health & Family Welfare; Home Affairs; and Environment.
There are other Standing Committees for each House, such as the Business Advisory Committee and the Privileges Committee.
Each of these Committees has 31 members out of which 21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha.
Ad hoc Committees
Ad hoc Committees are appointed for a specific purpose. They cease to exist after they have completed the task assigned to them, and have submitted a report to the House.
The principal Ad hoc Committees are the Select and Joint Committees on Bills.
Committees like the Railway Convention Committee, Committee on Food Management and Security in Parliament House Complex, etc. also come under the category of Ad hoc Committees.
Parliament can also constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) with a special purpose, with members from both Houses, for detailed scrutiny of a subject or Bill.
Also, either of the two Houses can set up a Select Committee with members from that House.
JPCs and Select Committees are usually chaired by ruling party MPs, and are disbanded after they have submitted their report.
Difference between the workings of the Parliamentary Committees and the Parliament
The time to speak on a Bill is allocated according to the size of the party in the House.
MPs often do not get adequate time to put forward their views in Parliament, even if they are experts on the subject.
Committees are small groups with relatively less demands on their time. In its meetings, every MP gets a chance and the time to contribute to the discussion.
Parliament has only around 100 sittings a year whereas the Committee meetings are independent of Parliament’s calendar.
Since the discussions are confidential and off-camera, party affiliations usually do not come in the way of MPs speaking their minds in ways they are unable to do in Parliament, whose proceedings are telecast live and members are often constrained to speak to their constituencies.
Significance of the Committees and their Reports
The Committees work closely with multiple Ministries, and facilitate inter-ministerial coordination.
Bills that are referred to Committees often return to the House with significant value-addition.
Reports of Departmentally Related Standing Committees are recommendatory in nature. They are not binding on the government, but they do carry significant weight.
In the past, governments have accepted suggestions given by the Committees and incorporated them into the Bill after it has come back to the House for consideration and passage.
The government has to report back on whether these recommendations have been accepted. Based on this, the Committees table Action Taken Reports.
The suggestions by the Select Committees and Joint Parliamentary Committees (JPCs), which have a majority of MPs and heads from the ruling party, are accepted more frequently.
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