Standing committees are becoming irrelevant: Opposition
The Hindu Business
Line, May 05, 2015
Is the Narendra Modi
government bypassing Parliament standing committees in the
process of law-making? The government may deny it, but the
Opposition thinks otherwise.
claim that out of the 51 new Bills and Ordinances brought by the
new government in the last one year, just eight have been sent
to any standing committee.
The Opposition cites
several Bills, including the GST Bill, Land Acquisition Bill,
the Mines and Minerals Bill and the Coal Bill, which were not
sent to any department-related standing committee. The last two
Bills were sent to a select committee of the Rajya Sabha, but it
got only a week?s time for discussions.
?Look at the Lokpal
Bill. It had also gone to a select committee. But we had at
least 30 sittings and meetings with about 100 stakeholders
before taking a final view on the legislation. This government
is killing Parliament democracy in a systematic way. They are
promoting a sort of Presidential style of governance, where the
Prime Minister?s Office is the key decision-making body,? said
KN Balagopal, CPI (M) MP in the Rajya Sabha.
The view is shared
by Bhartruhari Mahtab of the Biju Janata Dal. ?When Veerappa
Moily, the then Corporate Affairs Minister, made a number of
substantial changes to the Companies Bill, cleared by the
Finance Standing Committee headed by Yashwant Sinha, we insisted
that the Bill should go again to the panel. The government
accepted our demand and we could improve the Bill after
deliberations in the panel. These panels gave us an opportunity
to be part of the law-making process,? Mahtab said. Public
Accounts Committee chairperson KV Thomas, too, is unhappy with
the government?s ?apathy? towards standing committees. ?When I
first came to Parliament in 1984, demands for grants were
discussed in Parliament. We had no time to go into the details.
Standing committees were formed to ensure a proper debate and
are considered as mini-Parliament. But after the last two
Budgets, I do not think such discussions have happened as this
government does not cooperate with the committees,? he added.
Corporations (Amendment) Bill, the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation
(Amendment) Bill, the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill and the
Regional Rural Banks (Amendment) Bill are some of the Bills that
have not been sent to the standing committees and should have
ideally gone to the panels on Food, Home, Roads and Highways
before getting passed in either of the Houses.
The issue was
earlier raised by the Congress, too. ?It is a question of
privilege of this House (Parliament). The Standing Committees
are elected committees. If the Bills are not going to the
Standing Committees for scrutiny, what does the government
propose to do with the Standing Committees?? asked Congress
leader Anand Sharma.
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