By announcing the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the 2G scam, now in the process of being constituted, the government has made peace with the opposition BJP.
But have our parties spared a thought for the parliamentary standing committees? A review shows most of their recommendations are either dumped or the departments concerned do not take follow-up action on them even after acceptance.In the 14th Lok Sabha (2004-09), there were 7,924 recommendations from 24 department-related standing committees (DRSCs). But the action taken reports submitted to Parliament show only 3,947 or 50% were accepted by the departments, the data of PRS Legislative Research collated from Parliament websites show.
The standing committee on industry in 2009 argued against allowing FDI in retail. But a year later the government strongly made a pitch for FDI in the sector.
While the success rate for the standing committee on coal and steel is 72%, it is just 10% with commerce. “We need to check the figures. By and large we try to get the recommendations find space in our policies or execution,” a senior commerce ministry official said.
An analyst says differences between committees and departments occur “as there will always be difference between what is desirable and what is practical”. “Like in commerce, where the policy is driven by international agreements,” he said.
Even on recommendations “broadly and vaguely” accepted, action is starkly missing. On a 2008 recommendation on providing mid-day meals to private unaided schools in tribal areas, though in principle accepted by the HRD ministry, a committee for considering this proposal is yet to submit its report.
“The recommendations might not be binding but (as they are) the result of extensive consultations, the departments should take them seriously and find a credible reason in case of rejection,” said CV Madhukar, director, PRS.
In the 15th Lok Sabha (2009 onwards), the level of acceptance is slightly better. Of the seven departments — among them finance, defence and agriculture — analysed, the acceptance ranges between 49 and 70%.
In comparison, the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) are accepted more. From 2002-03 to November 2010, the PAC submitted 978 recommendations, of which 689 were accepted.