Lok Sabha evaluates how many of House panel ideas adopted
The Lok Sabha has decided to examine the “strike rate” of parliamentary committees, and see how many recommendations by these panels have been accepted by the government — an exercise undertaken by Speaker Om Birla at a time when the Opposition is up in arms against the Union government for allegedly attempting to push through legislation without in-depth scrutiny.
An internal circular seeking data from different panels that has been seen by HT said: “Committee coordination branch should ascertain committee-wise percentage of implementation of the recommendations by the respective ministries/ departments and submit a report on the same.”
The circular added that reports “presented during the 16th Lok Sabha (2014-2019) and so far during 17th Lok Sabha (2019-2020) from parliamentary committees” will be taken up.
Parliament has 24 standing committees, out of which 16 come under the purview of the Lower House and the rest under the authority of the Rajya Sabha. Each panel has MPs from both Houses.
Apart from the standing committees, there are three financial panels of the Lok Sabha, and several ad-hoc panels of both Houses.
To be sure, the reports of the committees are not binding on the government. The Centre is free to reject the entire report, partially accept the recommendations, or in rare cases, accept all the suggestions of the panels which usually work outside the purview of partisan political lines.
Officials argued that the exercise by the Speaker will help ascertain the work done, and strengthen the supervisory role of Parliament over the Executive.
Last month, during the debate on the three labour reform bills, the Union labour minister informed the House that out of the 233 recommendations of the Standing Committee, the government accepted nearly 75%, underlining the importance of the panels.
According to data available with PRS Legislative Research, 25% of the bills introduced in the first term of the Modi government were referred to committees. “The figure, however, is much lower than 71% and 60% in the 15th and 14th Lok Sabha respectively,” said a PRS note.
The Opposition was up in arms against the government in the Monsoon session over the passage of three farm bills that were not referred to the panels for scrutiny in a session that was shortened due to the Covid pandemic. The confrontation led to an intense protest in Parliament, and eight Opposition MPs were suspended from the Rajya Sabha.
Former Lok Sabha secretary general P Sreedharan said that assessment of the rate of implementation of the panels’ suggestions “will give a clear and better insight into the extent of quality of recommendations and how the government has reacted to them”.
“It will also serve the basic purpose of parliamentary oversight of the executive; MPs, people, and Parliament itself, must know how far the government is accepting recommendations of multi-party panels,” he said.