What are Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSCs)? Discuss their role in improving the effectiveness of Parliament as an institution.

What are Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSCs)? Discuss their role in improving the effectiveness of Parliament as an institution.
Approach:
  • Briefly explain what DRSCs are
  • Discuss their role in effectiveness of Parliament
  • Then give their limitations
  • Conclude with suggestions
Model Answer :
Over the years, the volume of business transacted by Parliament has steadily declined. The Lok Sabha did not have adequate time to analyse the demands for grants of the various ministries and departments, and they were passed without much deliberation and debate.
In light of this, the Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSC) were introduced to make the parliamentary activity more effective and to make the executive more accountable. A system of 17 DRSCs came into being in 1993 (later expanded to 24).
Functioning of of DRSCs:
The 31 member Standing Committees (each focusing on a set of ministries) consider the demands for grants of the ministries concerned, scrutinize the bills or important policy papers of related ministry when referred to by the Speaker/Chairman, make annual reports on implementation of relevant policies etc. These Committees provide necessary direction, guidance and inputs for broad policy formulations and in achievement of the long-term national perspective by the executive.
Role of DRSCs in increasing Parliament’s effectiveness:
  1. Help Parliament to manage its business better. It is easier to examine a topic in depth by a committee of 31 members than by legislatures with large membership.
  2. Enable input from experts and those who may be directly affected by a policy or legislation.
  3. Allow members to discuss issues and reach consensus without worrying about constituency pressures.
  4. As anti-defection law does not apply to committees, decisions are not usually made on party lines.
  5. Allow members to focus on some specific areas and build their expertise, which helps them scrutinize issues more thoroughly.
Limitations of DRSCs:
  1. All Bills are not referred to committees. For example- just 27 percent of Bills introduced in the current Parliament have been so referred.
  2. The recommendations of committees are not binding.
  3. Lack of standing research support is another concern. They are backed by the general support staff of Parliament and do not have a dedicated set of researchers associated with them.
  4. Another issue is related to the transparency of the work of committees. All committees meet behind closed doors and only the final report is published, with summary minutes.
There is a need to further strengthen its ability for detailed scrutiny of issues so that it helps parliament to work better in its lawmaking and accountability roles. These would include mandatory examination of all Bills, creating research teams, and improving the transparency of input from advocacy groups.

Subjects : Polity

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