Structure of the Parliamentary Committee System
- Definition: Parliamentary Committees are an extension of Parliament, ensuring detailed scrutiny of matters that cannot be addressed in the limited time available on the floor of the House.
- Standing Committees: Permanent in nature, reconstituted from time to time. Examples include Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Estimates Committee, and Committee on Public Undertakings.
- Ad hoc Committees: Formed for a specific purpose and cease to exist once they finish the task assigned.
- Examine Bills: They scrutinize bills referred by the House.
- Budgetary Oversight: They examine the government’s budget proposals.
- Departmental Oversight: They oversee the functioning of various ministries.
- Composition: Members from both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, reflecting proportional representation from political parties.
Institutionalization of Indian Parliament through Financial Committees
- Role of PAC:
- Audit of Revenue: Ensures money granted by Parliament is spent as intended.
- Examination of CAG Reports: Scrutinizes reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
- Role of Estimates Committee:
- Economic Analysis: Assesses the efficiency of expenditure and suggests alternative policies.
- Budgetary Forecasts: Reviews whether the money is well-laid out within the limits of the policy implied in the estimates.
- Role of Committee on Public Undertakings:
- Performance Review: Evaluates the performance of public undertakings.
- Autonomy Assessment: Ensures autonomy and efficiency in public undertakings.
- Transparency and Accountability: Financial committees ensure that the executive is held accountable for its expenditure and policy decisions.
- Informed Decision Making: They provide detailed insights, leading to more informed discussions and decisions in the Parliament.
The Parliamentary Committee system plays a pivotal role in the functioning of the Indian democracy. Through detailed scrutiny, these committees ensure that the legislative and executive branches of the government function efficiently and transparently. Financial committees, in particular, have been instrumental in institutionalizing the role of Parliament in financial oversight, ensuring that the government’s economic policies and expenditures align with the nation’s best interests.