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Select committees and parliamentary panels

Date: 22 September 2020 Tags: Bills & Laws


The government passed  two crucial agriculture Bills in Rajya Sabha, rejecting Opposition demands that they be referred to a Select Committee of Rajya Sabha.



Proceedings were disrupted as the Opposition protested against the fact that neither Bill had been scrutinised by a parliamentary committee.



  • Parliament scrutinises legislative proposals (Bills) in two ways. The first is by discussing it on the floor of the two Houses. This is a legislative requirement and all Bills have to be taken up for debate.

  • The time spent debating the bills can vary. They can be passed in a matter of minutes, or debate and voting on them can run late into the night. 

  • The second mechanism is by referring a Bill to a parliamentary committee. It takes care of the legislative infirmity of debate on the floor of the House.

  • India’s Parliament has multiple types of committees. They can be differentiated on the basis of their work, their membership and the length of their tenure.

  • First are committees that examine bills, budgets and policies of ministries. These are called departmentally related Standing Committees.

  • There are 24 such committees and between them, they focus on the working of different ministries. Each committee has 31 MPs, 21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha.

  • Departmentally related Standing Committees have a tenure of one year, then they are reconstituted and their work continues throughout the term of a Lok Sabha. Ministers are not members and key committees like those related to Finance, Defence, Home etc are usually chaired by Opposition MPs.

  • Then there are committees constituted for a specific purpose, with MPs from both Houses. The specific purpose could be detailed scrutiny of a subject matter or a Bill. These are Joint Parliamentary Committees (JPC).

  • There is a Select Committee on a Bill. This is formed for examining a particular Bill and its membership is limited to MPs from one House. 

  • Bills are not automatically sent to committees for examination. There are three broad paths by which a Bill can reach a committee.

  • The first is when the minister piloting the Bill recommends to the House that his Bill be examined by a Select Committee of the House or a joint committee of both Houses.

  • The report of the committee is of a recommendatory nature. The government can choose to accept or reject its recommendations. Very often the government incorporates suggestions made by committees. 

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