Roles, limitations of Select Committees and other parliamentary panels

4 min read

News: In the current Lok Sabha, 17 Bills have been referred to committees.

Facts:

  • Parliamentary Committees: They are established to study and deal with various matters that cannot be directly handled by the legislature due to their volume.
  • Constitutional Provision: Indian Constitution mentions two kinds of parliamentary committees under Article 118 (1) of the constitution-
    • Standing Committees
    • Ad Hoc Committees
  • Classification of committees in Parliament on basis of their work, their membership and the length of their tenure:
  • Departmentally related Standing Committees:
    • These are committees that examine bills, budgets and policies of ministries
    • There are 24 such committees and between them, they focus on the working of different ministries.
    • Each committee has 31 MPs, 21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha.
    • They have a tenure of one year, then they are reconstituted and their work continues throughout the term of a Lok Sabha.
    • Ministers are not members; key committees like those related to Finance, Defence, Home etc are usually chaired by Opposition MPs.
  • Joint Parliamentary Committees (JPC): They are constituted for a specific purpose, with MPs from both Houses.
  • Select Committee: They are formed for examining a particular Bill and its membership is limited to MPs from one House. Example: In 2019, Rajya Sabha referred the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 to a Select Committee of 23 of its MPs from different parties.
  • When does a committee examine a Bill? A bill can reach a committee for examination in three ways:
  • When the minister piloting the Bill recommends to the House that his Bill be examined by a Select Committee of the House or a joint committee of both Houses.
  • If the minister makes no such motion, it is up to the presiding officer of the House to decide whether to send a Bill to a departmentally related Standing Committee.
  • A Bill passed by one House can be sent by the other House to its Select Committee.
  • Result of sending a bill to a Committee:
    • The committee undertakes a detailed examination of the Bill. It invites comments and suggestions from experts, stakeholders and citizens. It then provides a report recommending measures to strengthen the bill.
    • The report of the committee is of a recommendatory nature.