Source: The Hindu
News: In the recently concluded monsoon session of Parliament (July-August), the government sent two bills i.e. Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022, and the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022 to the Standing Committee of Parliament for detailed examination.
About Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committees(DRSCs):
- Parliament has 24 Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committees (DRSC) jointly constituted by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
- Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committees(DRSCs) comprise members from Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha in a ratio of 2:1.
- Mandate of DRSCs: To examine various legislations referred to it, the budget proposals of different Ministries, and also to do policy thinking on the vision, mission, and future direction of the concerned Ministries.
- During the tenures of the 14th (2004-2009), 15th (2009-2014) and 16th Lok Sabhas (2014-2019) percentage of Bills that have been referred to the DRSCs are 60%, 71%, and 27%, respectively.
Importance of Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committees(DRSCs) in law-making:
- It will improve the productivity of Parliament: In this monsoon session, Parliament was able to pass only five pieces of legislation in its limited legislative time. The productivity of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha is 47% and 42% respectively.
- For Proper examination of Bills: Parliamentary committees help properly examine bills, especially from the perspective of consumers and stakeholders.
- Prevent Bills from later/abrupt withdrawal by the government: Before bills were sent to standing committees they just remained a bureaucratically conceived piece of legislation. Many bills that were passed without being referred to the DRSC were withdrawn at a later stage. Example: Passage of three Farm Bills.
- Bonhomie and cordial deliberations in these committee meetings aid members in adding value to the legislation’s content and reaching a consensus.
- Help in fostering the trust of parliamentarians, both from the ruling party and the Opposition parties leading to a good ambience of the discussions in the parliament.
- Examination of pieces of legislation in the committees, brings some sort of ownership to the members of the committee, both from the ruling side and the Opposition.
- Utilization of skills and experience of members of the committee: The skills of the chairman and committee members also got tested through the examination of these bills.
Steps to ensure proper utilization of Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committees(DRSCs):
- Provision for compulsory/automatic process of reference of Bills to standing committees. Exemptions must be made by stating specific approval of the Speaker/Chairman after detailed reasons for the same.
- Speaker and Chairman of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha must have powers to refer Bills to a DRSC of Parliament with some exemptions.
- Frank and free discussions in the Parliamentary Standing Committee by ensuring that no whip of the party would apply to them in committee meetings. Members should have the liberty to vote in favour or against the Bill in Parliament.
- Fixed timeline for recommendations and presentation of committee report: These timelines should be decided by the Speaker/Chairman. If the committee fails to give its recommendation within the stipulated time, the Bill may be put up before the House concerned directly.
- Invitation of experts like subject matter experts/young researchers having necessary domain knowledge for a short period to ensure quality work in the committees, these experts will introduce the latest developments and trends in that field from worldwide.
- Collaboration of Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and committee chairmen to organize parliamentary works during the inter-sessional period. In most cases, the government and the committee chairmen are lax in organizing committee meetings between two sessions of the parliament.
- Committees should offer suggestions for the Ministry to take up new initiatives and people-friendly measures, especially in case of budget proposals of the Ministries.
- After realizing the importance of Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committees(DRSCs), the government started referring bills to the committees. But, there is still more to ensure proper utilization of Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committees(DRSCs).
Article: An essential pit stop in parliamentary business (Author: Desh Deepak Verma).
Article link: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/an-essential-pit-stop-in-parliamentary-business/article65895581.ece