There are different types of parliamentary committees which can be classified as follows:
- Consultative committees for different ministries which provide a forum for discussion on the policies and the working of the ministry.
- Select or Joint Select Committees on individual bills for investigation or inquiry.
- Parliament may appoint a committee for specific purpose of studying a particular subject matter for example, a committee for the welfare of Scheduled caste and scheduled tribes.
- There are committees to inquire into the various matters like the Committee of Petitions and the Committee of Privileges, the Committee to Scrutinize or the Committee of Government assurance and Committee on Subordinate Legislation.
- There are also committees of administrative character relating to the business of House such as Committee on absence of Members from the sittings of the House, Business Advisory Committee and Rules Committee.
- A few committees are concerned with the facilities of a Member of Parliament like the House Committee and Library committee.
- However, the most important committees include the financial committees such as Estimates Committee, Public Accounts Committee and the Committee on Public Undertakings.
The Committee has 30 members, who are elected in accordance with the system of proportional representation from among the members of Lok Sabha for a period of one year. The Quorum for the meeting is one -third. The Estimates Committee is a standing Committee. The Chairman is nominated by the Speaker provided if the Deputy Speaker is the member of the Committee, he automatically assumes the power of the Chairman. No minister can be a member of the Committee. The Estimates Committee is charged with the responsibility of detailed examination of budget estimates. Major functions include:
- to suggest alternative policy in order to bring about efficiency and economy in administration.
- to report how the economies, improvement in organization, efficiency or administrative reforms consistent with the policy underlying the estimates may be affected;
- to examine whether the money is well laid out within limits of the policy implied in the estimates.
- to suggest for the reform and present the estimates to the Parliament.
Public Accounts Committee
The Public Accounts Committee is essentially a committee of the Lok Sabha. The strength of the committee is 22 of which 15 are elected from the Lok Sabha and the rest are nominated from the Rajya Sabha. The Speaker nominates the Chairman, who conventionally is the Leader of Opposition in the Lower House. The major function of the public Account Committee is to scrutinize the appropriation account of the Government of India and other accounts laid before the House and the report of the Auditor General of India and also to satisfy itself that money is spent appropriately. It is also responsible for commenting on the ways of the extravagance in the spending of the public funds.
Committee on Public Undertakings
The committee constituted in 1964 consists of 15 members of Lok Sabha and 7 members of the Rajya Sabha. The major function of the committee is to examine the reports and accounts of public undertakings and suggest economic improvement in organization and financial management, etc. A few public sector undertakings are picked every year for the purpose of scrutiny.
The members of Select Committee are appointed by the House with their consent. The Chairman is appointed by the Speaker. He has the power to ensure the attendance of a member and also ensures the production of papers and records. Select Committees present their report to the House.
Committee on Petitions
This Committee is nominated by the Speaker and is inclusive of 15 members. No minister can be a member of this committee. Major function of the committee is to examine every petition referred to it and report to the House recording necessary evidence and suggest remedial measures to the House.
Committee on Privileges
The Speaker nominates the members of this committee. The strength is 15 members. It is empowered to take stock of the breach of privileges and determination of breach of privileges.
Committee on Government Assurances
The function of this committee is to scrutinize the various assurances, promises, and undertakings given by ministers from time to time on the floor of the House. It has 15 members nominated by the Speaker for a period of one year. No minister can be a member of this committee. The committee reports to the extent to which the assurances given by ministers have been implemented.
Committee on Subordinate Legislation
It has 15 members nominated for one year by the Speaker. It scrutinises and reports to the House whether the power to make regulations, rules, sub-rules, bye-laws delegated by the Parliament to the executive, is being properly exercised within the limits of such delegation.
Committee on Absence of Members
It has 15 members nominated by the Speaker for one year. It considers leave applications of members for absence and records if a member has been absent exceeding 60 days without permission and reports whether the absence should be condoned or the member’s seat be declared vacant.
Business Advisory Committee
The committee is for the purpose of regulating the timetable of the working of the House. There are 15 members nominated by the Speaker, who himself is the Chairman of this committee.
The main function of this committee is to consider matters of procedure and conduct of business in the House and recommends for the amendments to the rules of the House. The Speaker is the ex-office Chairman and it includes 15 members nominated.
Committee on Welfare of SC and ST
30 members drawn from both Houses serve on this Committee which considers all matters relating to SC/ST, coming under the purvion of the Union Government and ensures whether constitutional safeguards in respect of these classes are properly implemented.
Committee on Private Members Bills and Resolutions
Consisting of 15 members nominated by the speaker, the Committee classifies and allocates times to bills introduced by private members. The Deputy Speaker is invariably its members.
Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances
10 members are nominated by the Lok Chairman to this Committee which frames rules for regulating the payment of salaries etc. to Members of Parliament and rules regarding amenities like housing, telephones, postal, secretarial and medical facilities.
Joint Committee on Offices of Profit
Again a 15 members Committee – 10 elected from Lok Sabha and 5 from Rajya Sabha, it examines, the character and composition of the Committees and other bodies appointed by the Union and State Government and recommends what offices ought to or ought not to disqualify a person for being chosen as M.P.
Departmental Standing Committees
Parliament has decided to constitute committees to consider the demand for grants of various ministries, thus changing the earlier practice of the full house discussing and voting upon individual heads of grant. The committees, 23 in number, will consist of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members, but later being denied a vote in case a particular grant calls for such a procedure. The Lok Sabha to which Council of Ministers is responsible and which alone can grant the money required for running the country’s administration after detailed scrutiny. The Parliament guillotine comes in handy in such circumstances.
These Committees are appointed as need arisen and they cease to exist as soon as they complete the task assigned to them. The usual ad-hoc committees are select/joint committees on bills, appointed to consider and report on particular bills. Other ad-hoc committees are constituted from time to time either by the two houses on a motion adopted in that behalf or by the Speaker/Chairman to inquire into and report on specific subjects.