Parliamentary Committees – Types, Role, Significance of Committees of Parliament

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Parliamentary Committees are committees elected by the House or nominated by the Speaker. A Parliamentary Committee operates under the instructions of the Chairman or the Speaker, whosoever is leading the House. Parliamentary Committees are constituted to study and manage numerous matters that cannot be straightly managed by the legislature due to their high volume. The major responsibility of the Parliamentary committees is to regulate the operation of the executive branch and facilitate the legislature with numerous policy inputs, this plays an eminent role in democracy.

Articles 105 and 118 of the Indian Constitution mention the Parliamentary Committees. The reports of the Committee are presented to the House or to the Chairman or Speaker of the House. The concept of a Parliamentary Committee has been taken from the British Parliament. As per the Indian Constitution, there are two types of Committees – Ad Hoc and Standing Committees.

What are Parliamentary Committees?

The Parliamentary Committees take into account the matters such as government expenditure, legislation, government policies and schemes, and administration of Parliament. There are numerous types of parliamentary committees with various functions. The major functions of the Committees include examining the funds attributed to the Ministries, analyzing Pre-budget estimations etc.

Types of Parliamentary Committees

The various types of parliamentary committees serve numerous functions. The Financial, Ad hoc, and Administrative Committees are formed for coordinating and taking up numerous roles for monitoring and regulating the associated tasks with ease.

Types of Parliamentary Committees Description of Parliamentary Committees
Standing Committees These are further divided into 6 types which include financial committees, housekeeping committees, and more, and are permanent in nature.
Ad Hoc Committees These are further divided into two types – Inquiry committees and Advisory committees. They are temporary in nature.

Each of these Parliamentary Committees plays an important role in the functioning of Indian democracy. Let’s take a look at them to get a brief overview of them.

Departmentally Related Standing Committees [DRSCs]

The Departmentally Related Standing Committees were instituted in 1993. DRSCs comprise 31 members, 10 members from Rajya Sabha and 21 members from Lok Sabha. The main role of these parliamentary committees is to provide aid to the Parliament in examining funds assigned to the Ministries.

They scrutinize the bills mentioned to them by Parliament and also take into account other relevant policy issues. The tenure of the Departmentally Related Standing Committees is one year. The functions of the DSRCs include-

  • After the Budget is declared DRSCs scrutinize the Demands Grant for all the ministries. They also take into consideration all the schemes, programs, and funds allocated to them. They present a detailed report on the same and present it in front of both houses. This assists the Ministers in comprehending the implications of the financial allocations.
  • As the bills are presented in the Parliament, these are referred to the DRSCs for an in-depth examination.
  • The subjects chosen by these Parliamentary committees can be existing or can be considered to be a potential issue that highlights the domains that DRSC looks after and the execution of the programs by the specific Ministry.

Financial Committees

Parliament governs government expenses to make sure that public finances are utilized effectively. The governance of financial expenses and the matters of predicting financial outcomes is a difficult task, the financial committees come to the rescue. The financial committees can assist the parliament in managing these tasks.

  • Committee on Public Accounts: The Committee on Public Accounts analyzes accounts on funds implemented by Parliament for government expenses. It also scrutinizes other accounts presented before Parliament such as reports facilitated by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). As it is tough for the Parliament to talk over each of these reports, the PAC is having the responsibility of scrutinizing the results of the CAG audit reports. It also investigates irregularities in public finance that are brought to the notice of the government.
  • Committee on Public Undertakings: The Parliamentary Committees on Public Undertakings analyzes the accounts and CAG reports of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). After examination of issues, it presents reports containing recommendations to Parliament.
  • Estimates Committee: The committee assists the Parliament in foreseeing the pre-budget assumptions of the government. It presents the report on the reforms needed in the administrative forefront within Ministries and also recommends policies to uplift the efficiency in the administration procedures. The Committee can choose subjects on the basis of the expected expenditures as a segment of the Ministry.

The Committee on Public Undertakings and Public Accounts consists of 22 members: 15 from Lok Sabha and seven members from Rajya Sabha. The Estimates Committee consists of 30 members from Lok Sabha only. Members are elected for a period of one year.

Administrative Committees

The houses of Parliament need administrative support for their day-to-day functioning. For this purpose the Houses have set up different Parliamentary Committees as the following:

  • Business Advisory Committee: Helps decide the daily agenda of Parliament.
  • Committee on Private Members’ Bills and Resolutions: Examines all Private Members’ Bills after their introduction.
  • Committee on Government Assurances: Scrutinizes the assurances, promises, and undertakings given by Ministers.
  • Rules Committee: Considers matters of procedure and conduct of business in the House.
  • Committee of Privileges: Examines questions involving breach of rights, privileges, and immunities enjoyed by MPs.
  • Committee on Ethics: Oversees the moral and ethical conduct of MPs.
  • Committee on Absence of Members from the Sittings of the House: The applications of MPs are left with examines.
  • Joint Committee on Offices of Profit: Examines the composition of other committees and prescribes what offices may eliminate a person from becoming an MP.
  • Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of MPs: Examines salaries and allowances of MPs.
  • Committee on the Welfare of SCs and STs: Examines measures taken by the government to improve the status of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Committee on Empowerment of Women: Recommends measures to improve the status and conditions of women.
  • Library Committee: Advice on the improvement of the Parliamentary Library.
  • House Committee: Advice on matters related to residential accommodation of MPs.
  • General Purposes Committee: Advice on matters concerning the affairs of the House referred to it by the Chairperson.

Accountability Committee

The accountability committee is inclined to facilitate accountability to the Parliament and the citizens. The list of all the accountability committees are as listed herein-

  • Committee on Government Assurance: It examines the assurances, promises, and undertakings facilitated by the Ministers in the Parliament. It makes sure that the commitments put forth by the Government are fulfilled effectively.
  • Committee on Subordinate Legislation: In the procedure of establishing the legislation, the Parliament formulates broad principles on numerous issues and presents a layout of the procedural information for the government to pursue in the form of rules and regulations. The Committee on Subordinate Legislation inspects whether the authority to formulate rules and regulations is being implemented properly.
  • Committee on Petitions: This committee examines public complaints in the form of petitions and conveys to the MPs the opinions of the public. The petitions can be pertaining to the bills, and matters pending with the government. The committee caters to the complaints and remedial measures mentioned in the reports.

Ad Hoc Committees

Ad Hoc Committees are elected by either the House or the presiding officers from time to time for a specific objective. These Parliamentary committees leave when they are done with the task allocated to them and present a report, for example, the Railway Convention Committee and Select Committees were formed to examine specific Bills.

  • Ad hoc Committees are elected for a particular objective and they leave when they are done with the task allocated to them and present a report.
  • These committees are classified by Lok Sabha as Committees on Ethics, MPLADS, and Computers.
  • Ad hoc Committees include Select and Joint Committees on Bills. Eg. Commercial Division of High Courts Bill, 2009.
  • Except for the Joint Committee on Wakf, the Ad hoc committees operate in the Lok Sabha and include members from both Houses and the number varies between 10 and 30.

Significance of Parliamentary Committees

The Parliamentary Committees hold much significance as they act as a Mini-Parliament. They consist of various MPs from different parties elected in a similar way as in the Parliament. The Parliamentary Committees also contribute to keeping an eye on the Government activities and objects wherever needed.

  • The recommendations of the Parliamentary Committees play an important role in forcing the Government to take necessary steps as these recommendations are maintained as public records.
  • Though the Government is not bound to accept all the recommendations, they surely act as catalysts.
  • As the sessions of the Committees are held privately, the Members of the Parliament are not under any kind of pressure and represent their cause in a comfortable manner.
  • If any bill is passed through them, the Members of the Committee look into it closely and also take due consideration from all the other stakeholders which also includes the general public.

Joint Parliamentary Committee

Joint Parliamentary Committees are committees that are composed of members of both houses of a bicameral parliamentary system. Hence, they consist of members of both the Lok Sabha (Lower House) and the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) of the Parliament. These committees are set up to investigate and examine specific issues or policy areas that are of interest to both houses of Parliament.

Furthermore, Joint Parliamentary Committees are also set up for the purpose of scrutiny of legislation and making recommendations for changes to the legislation. Lastly, they can also be tasked with reviewing the work of government departments or agencies.

Role of Parliamentary Committees in Indian Democracy

The Parliamentary Committees in India play a crucial role in the functioning of democracy. They provide a platform for detailed scrutiny of government policies, legislation, and budgetary allocations.

  • The parliamentary committees scrutinize the proposed policies and provide suggestions and recommendations to improve the quality of the legislation.
  • The committees scrutinize the budget proposals, expenditure reports, and audit reports of various government departments.
  • The parliamentary committees investigate various government departments to ensure that they function in accordance with the law and with transparency.
  • The committees conduct inquiries and investigations into various issues of public interest and bring the findings to the notice of Parliament.

Issues with Parliamentary Committees

While Parliamentary Committees in India play an essential role in ensuring transparency and accountability, there are certain issues associated with their functioning, such as:

  • The recommendations of the Parliamentary Committees are not binding. This means that the government is not obliged to implement them.
  • The Committees often face a shortage of staff, research facilities, and other resources.
  • The meetings of the Parliamentary Committees are held behind closed doors, and their proceedings are not made public. Hence, there is a lack of transparency as to the work.
  • The Committees often take a long time to submit their reports, which can delay the decision-making process and affect the implementation of policies.
  • Lastly, since the committees are often dominated by the members of the ruling party, there is inadequate representation in them.

Recommendations to Strengthen the Parliamentary Committees

To strengthen the functioning of Parliamentary Committees in India, the following recommendations can be considered:

  • The proceedings of the Parliamentary Committees should be made public to enhance transparency and accountability.
  • The Committees should be provided with adequate resources, including staff, research facilities, and other resources.
  • The committees should have diverse representation from different political parties and regions.
  • The recommendations of the committees should be made binding on the government to ensure that they are implemented on time.

Implementing these recommendations can help strengthen the functioning of Parliamentary Committees in India and enhance their role in the democratic process.

Parliamentary Committees UPSC

Parliamentary Committee is an important topic that needs to be understood by the aspirants of the exam. Indian Polity is a favourite subject of the examiner, and every year, several questions are asked about the subject both in Prelims and Mains. In GS Paper 2 of the Mains, Parliamentary Committees can be asked in detail.

To cover Parliamentary Committees, one needs to understand the basics of the topic that could be covered through the NCERT Books and the recommended UPSC Books. One can move forward with Polity Books to have a detailed and in-depth knowledge of the topic.

Parliamentary Committee UPSC PDF

For the upcoming exam, it is essential that the candidates are fully aware of the important topics. Parliamentary Committees is one such topic that needs special attention. Download the notes PDF so you can revise and memorize the facts at a glance, anytime!

Parliamentary Committees Sample Questions

Solving UPSC Previous Year Questions would help in understanding the exam pattern better and would give an idea about the types of questions that could be asked in the IAS Exam. You must solve these questions to get an in-depth knowledge of this topic and solve the questions in the exam with ease.

Question: Consider the following statements: [1] The Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women was constituted in 1997.  [2] The parliamentary committee on the empowerment of women consists of 20 members of the Lok Sabha and 10 members of the Rajya Sabha.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? [A] Only 1, [B] Only 2, [C] Both 1 and 2, [D] Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: Option C [Both 1 and 2] The Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women was constituted in 1997. The parliamentary committee on the empowerment of women consists of 20 members of the Lok Sabha and 10 members of the Rajya Sabha.

Question: Which one of the following committees is not a Standing Committee of the Parliament? [A] Public Accounts Committee, [B] Estimates Committee, [C] Committee on Public Undertakings, [D] Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Finance

Answer: [Option D] Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Finance

Question: Which one of the following committees recommended the creation of the Committee on Public Undertakings? [A] Krishna Menon Committee, [B] Ashok Chanda Committee, [C] Gorwala Committee, [D] T. Krishnamachari Committee

Answer: [Option A] Krishna Menon Committee

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