Departmental Standing Committees- Extension of Tenure of Members

GS-2 INDIAN POLITY-Parliament—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business.

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Introduction      

The Parliamentary committees are established to study and deal with various matters that cannot be directly handled by the legislature due to their volume.

The Parliamentary committees are of two kinds –

  •  standing/permanent committees:- are elected or appointed periodically and they work on a continuous basis. 
  • The ad hoc committees are created on an ad hoc basis as the need arises and they are dissolved after they complete the task assigned to them.

Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSC):

Standing committees are of the following kinds :

  1. Financial standing committees (FSC)
  2. Department related standing committees (DRSC)
  3. Other standing committees (OSC)
  • There are 24 Department-related Standing Committees, each with a membership of 31 (10 of the Rajya Sabha and 21 of the Lok Sabha).(constituted in 1993.)

Rules regarding the term of the members of DRSC

  • sub-rule (4) of Rule 331D of the Lok Sabha Rules and sub-rule (3) of Rule 269 of the Rajya Sabha Rules-the term of office of the “members” of the committees shall not exceed one year.

Suggestion to change the term:

  • Rajya Sabha members are elected every 2 years:-Re-nominating the members again after one year – – – that can simply be avoided.
  • In Lok Sabha major reconstitution takes place when a new Lok Sabha is elected(5 years):-Re-nomination of members every year is a hectic exercise.
  • Can accommodate 240 members of the Rajya Sabhaand 504 members of the Lok Sabha.Ministers cannot be members of these committees and some senior members opt out.(no eligible and available MP is left out of the membership of these committees.)

Status of other standing committees:

  • The Rajya Sabha Rules prescribe no fixed tenure(hold office until a new committee is constituted.)
  • Lok Sabha Rules have a tenure of one year(except a few for which no tenure has been prescribed.)

Way Forward

  • Standing Committees are permanent-should be no difficulty if the terms of the members on these committees are different.(consonance with the tenure)
  • Rules could also provide that casual vacancies may be filled in by the Presiding Officers-(empowered to reconstitute the membership)

Conclusion

       The yearly reconstitution of DRSCs is only a notional exercise and most members are re-nominated back. A fixed tenure in line with the tenure of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha tenures, can help the committees to benefit from his experience and expertise.

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