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What is a Parliamentary Standing Committee?

Oct 08, 2022


Elevate your UPSC CSE preparation with our daily dose of Current Affairs. In today's edition, we will talk about Parliamentary Standing Committee and its significance.


Recently, Parliamentary Standing Committees were revamped.

Practice Question

What are Financial Committees of the Parliament? What role do they play in effective functioning of the houses in Parliament?

About Committees of Parliament

  • The process of lawmaking is often complex, and Parliament has limited time for detailed discussions.
  • Due to lack of expertise, inconclusive debates, etc., most of the legislative business ends up taking place in the Parliamentary Committees.
  • A Parliamentary Committee is a panel of Members of Parliament (MPs) that is appointed or elected by the House or nominated by the Speaker (Chairman in Case of Rajya Sabha).
  • These Parliamentary Committees work under the direction of the Speaker (or chairman in case of Rajya Sabha).
  • They present their report to the House or to the Speaker (or chairman in case of Rajya Sabha).
  • Parliamentary Committees have their origins in the British Parliament.
  • They draw their authority from Article 105, which deals with the privileges of MPs, and Article 118, which gives Parliament authority to make rules to regulate its procedure and conduct of business.

Types of Parliamentary Committees

Broadly, Parliamentary Committees can be classified into Financial Committees, Departmentally Related Standing Committees, Other Parliamentary Standing Committees and Ad hoc Committees.

The Financial Committees include the Estimates Committee, Public Accounts Committee, and the Committee on Public Undertakings. These committees were constituted in 1950.

The Estimates Committee

  • It was Constituted first time in 1950. Consists of 30 members, all elected from Lok Sabha. The Chairman of the Committee is appointed by the Speaker. A minister cannot be a member of the committee.
  • Functions of Estimate Committee
    • To report what economies, improvements in organization, efficiency or administrative reform, consistent with the policy underlying the estimates, may be affected;
    • To suggest alternative policies in order to bring about efficiency and economy in administration;
    • To examine whether the money is well laid out within the limits of the policy implied in the estimates; and
    • To suggest the form in which the estimates shall be presented to Parliament;

The Committee on Public Accounts (PAC)

  • The Committee on Public Accounts is the oldest Parliamentary Committee and was first constituted in 1921. 
  • The Committee consists of 22 Members, 15 Members are elected by Lok Sabha and 7 Members of the Rajya Sabha are associated with it. 
  • The Speaker is empowered to appoint the Chairman of the Committee from amongst its Members.
  • By convention, the Chairman of PAC is appointed usually from amongst the opposition members.
  • Functions: Examination of accounts showing the appropriation of sums granted by Parliament for expenditure of Government of India, the annual Finance Accounts of Government of India, and such other accounts laid before Parliament as the Committee may deem fit such as accounts of autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies.

The Committee on Public Undertakings

  • The Committee on Public Undertakings is a Parliamentary Committee consisting of 22 Members, fifteen of whom are elected by the Lok Sabha every year from amongst its Members and seven Members to be nominated by Rajya Sabha.
  • The Chairman is appointed by the Speaker from amongst the Members of the Committee.
  • A Minister is not eligible to become a Member of the Committee.
  • The term of the Committee does not exceed one year.
  • Functions:
    • To examine the reports and accounts of Public Undertakings specified in the Fourth Schedule to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha ;
    • To examine the reports, if any, of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on the Public Undertakings ;
    • To examine, in the context of the autonomy and efficiency of the Public Undertakings whether the affairs of the Public Undertakings are being managed in accordance with sound business principles and prudent commercial practices ; and
    • To exercise such other functions as may be allotted to the Committee by the Speaker from time to time.

News Source: The Indian Express

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