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Extending tenure of Departmentally-Related Standing Committees (DRSC)

  • IASbaba
  • September 17, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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POLITY / GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Extending tenure of Departmentally-Related Standing Committees (DRSC)

In news:

The Rajya Sabha Secretariat is considering changing the rules governing the Departmentally-Related Standing Committees’ (DRSC) tenure to make it to two years from the present one year.

Reason behind:

A significant amount of the tenure of the committees was lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of the panels have not been able to complete reports on the subjects they were working on. 

The panels should have enough time to work on the subjects selected by them. 

Parliamentary committees:

  • Standing Committees: Permanent (constituted every year or periodically) and work on a continuous basis for one year from the date of its constitution.
  • Ad Hoc Committees: Temporary and cease to exist on completion of the task assigned

Role of committees:

  • Through Committees, Parliament exercises its control and influence over administration and keeps vigilance over the executive.
  • They aid and assist the Legislature in discharging its duties.
  • They also provide the expertise on a matter which is referred to them.

Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees:

  • Out of the total 24 standing committees, 8 work under the Rajya Sabha and 16 under the Lok Sabha.
  • Each standing committee consists of 31 members (21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha). 
  • The members of the Lok Sabha are nominated by the Speaker, just as the members of the Rajya Sabha are nominated by the Chairman from amongst its members
  • Ministers cannot be members of these committees.

What do the rules say?

As per Rule 331D (4) of the Lok Sabha rules and Rule 269(3) of the Rajya Sabha rules:
The term of office of the “members” of the committees shall not exceed one year.
Thus, it is the tem of the office of the members and not of the committees per se that is one year.

Backdrop:

The tenurial issue has to be looked at against following backdrop:

  • The Rajya Sabha undergoes partial biennial renewal, since one-third of its members retire every two years by virtue of clause (1) of Article 83 of the Constitution. 
  • The Lok Sabha has a fixed tenure of five years, unless sooner dissolved.

Thus it is only once in 10 years that the requirement of major reshuffle of the Standing Committees in both the Houses is expected to coincide, that is after the second round for the Lok Sabha and the fifth biennial round of the Rajya Sabha.

What can be done?

  • Different tenures

The terms of the members of the two Houses on these committees can be different, in consonance with the tenure of the Houses themselves. 

It may be two years for the Rajya Sabha members and for the Lok Sabha members, it may be coincidental with its life. 

Conclusion:

The sittings of Parliament are steadily declining over the years. From 100-150 sittings in the 1950s, the number is down to 60-70 sittings per year in 2019-20.
In such a scenario, a major part of parliamentary work is done by DRSCs. A longer tenure will help in completion of tasks and deliberations assigned to them.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss importance of Departmentally-related Standing Committees (DRSC). Do you think the tenure of the committee or its members should be extended?

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