Parliamentary committees in India derive their authority from constitutional provisions such as Article 105, which addresses the privileges of Parliament members, and Article 118, which empowers Parliament to establish rules for regulating its procedures and conduct of business.
Usefulness of Committees for Parliamentary Work:
- Committees enhance the efficiency of parliamentary proceedings.
- A smaller committee can delve into a subject more thoroughly than the entire parliament.
- They facilitate expert inputs and direct public participation.
- For instance, Departmental Standing Committees often solicit public opinions.
- Committees are exempt from the anti-defection law, allowing decisions beyond party lines.
- Members can specialize in specific areas, improving issue scrutiny.
- Vigilance over government expenditure and performance is maintained, exemplified by the Public Accounts Committee.
Role of Estimates Committees:
- Estimates committees assess budget estimates and recommend cost-saving measures.
- They propose alternative policies to enhance administrative efficiency and economy.
- Ineffectiveness of policies and the need for policy changes are highlighted to Parliament.
- However, the committee’s role is restricted by certain factors:
- It can’t challenge policies established by Parliament.
- Budget estimates are examined after Parliament’s approval, not before.
- Committee recommendations are advisory and non-binding on ministries.
Examples in the Indian Context:
Public Accounts Committee (PAC): This committee scrutinizes government expenditure. For instance, the PAC played a pivotal role in investigating irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum, leading to accountability and policy changes.
Parliamentary committees in India serve as crucial mechanisms for effective governance. They ensure comprehensive scrutiny, expert insights, and active public participation, thereby enhancing the quality of legislative processes.
The Estimates Committee, specifically, contributes by ensuring budget efficiency and highlighting policy ineffectiveness. Despite some limitations, committees play a pivotal role in promoting transparency, accountability, and informed decision-making in the Indian parliamentary system.