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HANDBOOK FOR MEMBERS OF RAJYA SABHA

Contents

CHAPTER III

PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES

49 Parliamentary Committees of Rajya Sabha and Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees

A. Parliamentary Committees

The following is the list of Parliamentary Committees which function under the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Rajya Sabha:

Name of the Committee Number of Members
1. Business Advisory Committee 11
2. Committee on Papers Laid on the Table 10
3. Committee on Petitions 10
4. Committee of Privileges 10
5. Committee on Rules 16
6. Committee on Subordinate Legislation 15
7.Committee on Government Assurances 10
8. House Committee 7
9.General Purposes Committee No Fixed Number

The functions etc. of each of these Committees are described below in brief:

(1) Business Advisory Committee (Rules 30 - 37 of the Rules of procedure): The Business Advisory Committee is constituted under rule 30(1) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Rajya Sabha. It consists of eleven members, including the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman, nominated by the Chairman. The Chairman is the Chairman of the Committee. If the Chairman is for any reason unable to preside over any meeting of the Committee, the Deputy Chairman acts as the Chairman for that meeting. The Committee holds office until a newCommittee is nominated. Normally the Committee is reconstituted every year.

A few other Members belonging to different political parties, which are not represented on the Committee are specially invited to attend the sittings of the committee as Special Invitees.

The function of the Committee is to recommend the-time that should be allocated for the discussion of the stage or stages of such Government Bills and other business as the Chairman in consultation with the Leader of the House may direct for being referred to the Committee.

The Committee may also to indicate in the proposed time-table the different hours at which the various stages of the Bill or other business are to be completed. The Committee performs such other functions as may be assigned to it by the Chairman from time to time.

All proposals for late sittings of the House, dispensing with the Question Hour or lunch hour, extension of sittings of the House beyond the normal hours of adjournment and fixing additional sittings/cancellation of sittings are placed before the committee for its recommendation.

The time-table in regard to the business of the Rajya Sabha as settled by the Committee is reported by the Chair to the House and is then notified in Parliamentary Bulletin, Part-II.

The Committee may also generally identify matters of public interest in respect of which Calling Attention or Short Duration Discussion   notices have been received, and which could be listed for being taken up in the House with the permission of the Chairman.

During the Budget Session, the Committee also decides on the Ministries whose working  may be taken up for detailed discussion in the second half of the Session.

(2)Committee on Papers Laid on the Table(Rules 212H-212O of the Rules of Procedure): The Committee on Papers Laid on the Table is constituted under rule 212H of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Rajya Sabha. It consists of ten members nominated by the Chairman.  The Chairman of the Committee is appointed by the Chairman from amongst the members of the Committee. If the Chairman of the Committee is absent from any meeting, the Committee chooses another member to act as Chairman of the Committee for that meeting. The Committee holds office till a new Committee is nominated.  Normally the Committee is reconstituted every year.

The Committee was set up to examine papers and documents tabled in the Rajya Sabha as part of a constitutional  or statutory obligation of the Government, in order to keep the Council and its Members informed of activities and actions of the Government and Government funded or Government aided bodies.

After a document is laid before the Council by a Minister, the Committee considers   whether 

(a)there has been compliance with the provisions of the Constitution or the Act of Parliament or any other law, rule or regulation in pursuance of which the document   has been so laid;

(b)there has been any unreasonable delay in laying the document before the Council and if so, whether a statement explaining the reasons for such delay has also been laid before the Council along with the document, and whether those reasons are satisfactory; and

(c)the document has been laid before the Council both in English and Hindi and if not, whether a statement explaining the reasons for not laying the document in Hindi has also been laid before the Council along with the document, and whether those reasons are satisfactory.  The Committee performs such other functions in respect of the papers laid on the Table as may be assigned to it by the Chairman or the Council from time to time.

Generally a Session wise Report is prepared with reference to all the papers laid  during a Session with regard to the above mentioned points.   The Committee may also examine and report on any specific  paper  laid on the Table if circumstances so  require. The reports of the Committee are presented to the House from time to time by the Chairman of the Committee or, in his absence, by any member of the Committee. 

Generally, Members are expected not to raise points of order with regard to tabling of Government papers and all such points are referred for examination to the Committee. 

(3) Committee on Petitions (Rules 147 - 153 of the Rules of Procedure) : The Committee on Petitions is constituted under rule 147 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Rajya Sabha. It consists of ten members nominated by the Chairman. The Chairman of the Committee is appointed by the Chairman from amongst the members of the Committee (provided that if the Deputy Chairman is a member of the Committee, he/she is appointed as the Chairman of the Committee). If the Chairman   of the Committee is absent from any meeting, the Committee chooses another member to act as Chairman of the Committee for that meeting.  If the Chairman of the Committee is for any reason unable to act, the Chairman may appoint another Chairman of the Committee in his place.  The Committee holds office till a new Committee is nominated. Normally the Committee is reconstituted every year.  The quorum of the Committee is five.

The functions of the Committee are to examine every petition referred to it, and, if the petition complies with the rules, to report to the House on specific complaints made in the petition after taking such evidence as it deems fit and to suggest remedial measures, either in a concrete form applicable to the case under consideration or to prevent recurrence of such cases. The reports of the Committee are presented to the House by the Chairman of the Committee or in his absence by any member of the Committee from time to time. A copy of the Report after its presentation to the Council, is also sent to the first petitioner and to the Member countersigning the petition if any.

The Chairman, Rajya Sabha, issued in 1976 a direction to the Committee enabling it to frame rules for its internal working. The Committee has since adopted a set of rules for its internal working. Under these rules, the Committee pursues with the Government the   recommendations made in its reports presented to the House from time to time in order to ensure their effective implementation. The Ministries/Departments of the Government are asked to inform the Committee within six months from the date of presentation of the report about the action taken or proposed to be taken by them on the reports. Where the Ministries/Departments find difficulty in implementing any recommendations, they are required to state the nature of the problem giving convincing reasons for the satisfaction of the Committee. The Committee is empowered, wherever necessary, to present further reports on the petitions considered earlier by it.

(4) Committee of Privileges  (Rules 187-203 of the Rules of Procedure):The Committee of Privileges is constituted under rule 192 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Rajya Sabha. It consists of ten members nominated by the Chairman. The Chairman of the Committee is appointed by the Chairman from amongst the members of the Committee. If the Chairman of the Committee is absent from any meeting, the Committee chooses another member to act as Chairman of the Committee for that meeting.  The quorum for holding a meeting of the Committee is five.  The Committee holds office till a new Committee is nominated. Normally the Committee is reconstituted every year.

The Committee examines every question of privilege referred to it either by the House or by the Chairman and determines with reference to the facts of each case whether a breach of privilege is involved and, if so, the nature of the breach, the circumstances leading to it and makes such recommendations as it deems fit. The Committee can also report to the House the procedure that may be followed by the House in giving effect to the recommendations made by the Committee.

The reports of the Committee are presented to the House from time to time by the Chairman of the Committee or in his absence by any member of the Committee. After the report is presented, a motion for consideration of the report may be moved by the Chairman of the Committee or any other member of the Committee.  As a practice, the motion  for consideration of the report is moved only in case some action is recommended by the Committee.  Any member may give notice of amendment to the motion for consideration of the report in such form as may be considered appropriate by the Chairman. After the motion for consideration of the report has been carried, the Chairman or any member of the Committee or any other member, as the case may be, may move that the House agrees, or disagrees or agrees with amendments, with the recommendations contained in the report.

(5) Committee on Rules (Rules 216-220 of the Rules of Procedure) -The Committee on Rules is constituted under rule 217 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Rajya Sabha. It consists of sixteen members including the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman nominated by the Chairman. Hon’ble Chairman, Rajya Sabha is the Chairman of the Committee. If the Chairman is for any reason unable to act as the Chairman of the Committee, the Deputy Chairman acts as the Chairman of the Committee in his place. If the Chairman or the Deputy Chairman, as the case may be, is for any reason unable to preside over any meeting, the. Committee chooses another member to act as the Chairman of the Committee for that meeting. The Committee holds office till a new Committee is nominated. Normally the Committee is reconstituted every year.

The Committee considers matters of procedure and conduct of business in the Rajya Sabha and recommends any amendments or additions to the rules that may be deemed necessary.  The quorum for holding a meeting of the Committee is five.

The reports of the Committee are presented to the House from time to time by the Deputy Chairman or in his absence by any member of the Committee. After a report is presented, a motion for consideration of the report may be moved by the Deputy Chairman or in his absence by a member of the Committee designated by the Chairman. Members by giving prior notice can move amendments to the motion for consideration of the report. After the motion for consideration of the report has been carried, the Deputy Chairman or in his absence any member of the Committee designated by the Chairman may move that the House agrees, or agrees with amendments, with the recommendations contained in the report.

The amendments to the rules as approved by the House come into force on such date as the Chairman may appoint.

(6) Committee on Subordinate Legislation (Rules 204 to 212 of the Rules of Procedure): The Committee on Subordinate Legislation is constituted under rule 205 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Rajya Sabha.  It consists of 15 members nominated by the Chairman.  The Chairman of the Committee is appointed by the Chairman from amongst the members of the Committee.  If the Chairman of the Committee is absent from any meeting, the Committee chooses another member to act as Chairman of the Committee for that meeting.  The Committee holds office till a new Committee is nominated.  Normally the Committee is reconstituted every year.

The functions of the Committee are to scrutinise and report to the Rajya Sabha whether the powers to make rules, regulations, bye-laws, schemes or other statutory instruments conferred by the Constitution or delegated by Parliament are being properly exercised within such conferment, or delegation, as the case may be.

The Committee examines each rule, regulation, bye-law, scheme or other statutory instrument framed in pursuance of the Constitution or the legislative functions delegated by Parliament to a subordinate authority, irrespective of the fact whether it is required to be laid before the House or not and in particular considers (a) whether it is in accordance with the general objects of the Constitution or the Act pursuant to which it is made; (b) whether it contains matter which in the opinion of the Committee should more properly be dealt within an Act of Parliament; (c) whether it contains imposition of any tax; (d) whether it directly or indirectly bars the jurisdiction of the courts; (e) whether it gives retrospective effect to any of the provisions in respect of which the Constitution or the Act pursuant to which it is made does not expressly give any such power; (f) whether it involves expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India or the public revenues; (g) whether it appears to make some unusual or unexpected use of the powers conferred by the Constitution or the Act pursuant to which it is made; (h) whether there appears to have been unjustifiable delay in its publication or in laying it before Parliament; and (i) whether for any reason its form or purport calls for any elucidation.

The Committee examines Bills which seek to delegate powers to make rules, regulations, bye-laws etc. or amend earlier Acts delegating such powers, with a view to seeing whether suitable provisions for the laying of the rules, regulations etc. before Parliament have been made therein.

For the purposes of its examination, the Committee generally elicits information from the administrative Ministry and may also take oral evidence.

The Committee also examines and scrutinises representations made to it in regard to rules, regulations, bye-laws, etc. made or required to be made under an Act.

The reports of the Committee are presented to the House from time to time by the Chairman of the Committee or in his absence, by any member of the Committee.  A report on a subordinate legislation may make recommendation with regard to changes in the Subordinate Legislation, whether accepted by the Ministry or not.  The Committee may further monitor implementation of its recommendations through an Action Taken Report.

            In addition to reports on individual rules taken up for detailed examination, a session-wise Report is also presented with regard to all the rules laid in the previous session in respect of compliance with the basic feature required of Subordinate Legislation.

(7)Committee on Government Assurance (Rules 212A to 212G of the Rules of Procedure): The Committee on Government Assurances which came into existence on 1st July, 1972 for the first time in the Rajya Sabha is constituted under rule 212 (A) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Rajya Sabha.  The Committee consists of ten Members nominated by the Chairman and holds office until a new Committee is nominated.  Normally, the Committee is reconstituted every year. The Chairman of the Committee is appointed by the Chairman from amongst the Members of the Committee.  If the Chairman of the Committee is absent from any meeting, the Committee chooses another member to act as Chairman of the Committee for that meeting.  In order to constitute a meeting of the Committee, the quorum is five.

The functions of the Committee are to scrutinise the assurances, promises, undertakings, etc. given by the Ministers, from time to time on the floor of the House and to report (a) the extent to which such  assurances, promises, undertakings etc have been fully or satisfactorily implemented; and (b) whether such implementation has taken place within the minimum time necessary for the purpose or whether there has been an inordinate delay in the implementation of assurances and if so, the reason therefor.

The Committee determines its own procedure in respect of all matters relating to the consideration of any question of assurances, promises, undertakings etc. in the Committee.  The Committee Chairman has been authorized to grant extension of time for implementation of assurances in respect of cases where request of Ministries for such extensions from time to time does not exceed the period of one year .

The Report of the Committee is presented to the House by the Committee Chairman or in his absence, by any Member of the Committee.  Apart from specific cases of assurances, the report generally contains analysis of cases where the Government has taken a long time in the implementation of assurances, cases of requests for extension of time in implementation of assurances, assurances which do not appear to have fully or satisfactorily implemented, review of pending assurances, and assurances which have been recommended for dropping.

All the relevant details relating to assurances e.g. Assurance No., source and date, subject, extent of Assurance, reasons for pendency, extension given with date, date of laying  of Implementation Report and date of dropping etc. are available on  a client server based software with web enabled outputs and a search facility and the information can be accessed from Internet site http:\\rajyasabha.nic.in.

(8)  General Purposes Committee (Rules 278 - 285 of the Rules of Procedure):  The General Purposes Committee is constituted under Rule 279 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States. It consists of the Chairman, the Deputy Chairman, members of the Panel of Vice-Chairmen, Chairmen of all Standing Parliamentary Committees of Rajya Sabha,  Leaders of recognized Parties and Groups in Rajya Sabha and such other members as may be nominated by the Chairman. The Chairman, Rajya Sabha,  is the ex-officio Chairman of the Committee.  The Committee holds office until a new Committee is nominated. Normally the Committee is constituted every year. Its functions are to consider and advise on such matters concerning the affairs of the House as may be referred to it by the Chairman from time to time.

The Committee has considered a variety of subjects of procedural, ceremonial and functional nature.  The quorum of the Committee is one third of its total membership. A record of the decisions of the Committee is maintained and circulated to its members under the direction of the Chairman.

The Committee may, if it deems fit, make a special report on any matter that arises or comes to light in the course of its work which it may consider necessary to bring to the notice of the Chairman or the House, notwithstanding that such matter is not directly connected with, or does not fall within or is not incidental to, its terms of reference. The Report of the Committee is presented to the Council by the Deputy Chairman or in his/her absence, by any Member of the Committee.

(9)  House Committee (Rules 212P-212W of the Rules of Procedure):  The House Committee  consists of seven members nominated by the Chairman.  The Chairman of the Committee is appointed by the Chairman from amongst the members of the Committee. The Committee holds office till a new Committee is nominated.  Normally the Committee is reconstituted every year.

The functions of the Committee are (i) to deal with all questions relating to the allotment of residential accommodation to members of the Rajya Sabha and to exercise supervision over facilities for accommodation so allotted and other amenities given to members in their residences and hostels in Delhi/New Delhi; and (ii) to make appropriate recommendations in regard to matters of common interest to members of both Houses of Parliament pertaining to their residences and other amenities.  The Chairman of the House Committees of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha confer together from time to time in this regard.

(10) Committee on Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme- The Committee on Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), Rajya Sabha was constituted by the Hon’ble Chairman, Rajya Sabha on 5th September, 1998.  It consists of ten Members including the Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha who is also the chairperson of the Committee.   There is a separate Committee on MPLADS for Lok Sabha.The Ministry of Statistics and  Programme Implementation is the nodal Ministry pertaining to the MPLAD Scheme.  The salient features of the scheme are :-

1. The works under the schemes are to be developmental in nature, based on the locally felt needs and should lead to creation of durable assets which should be available for public use at large.  There is a list of works which have been permitted under the Scheme and may be constructed.. Construction of office  buildings, residential buildings and other buildings, agencies or organization s are not permitted under the scheme.

Elected Members of Lok Sabha can select/recommend works in their own constituencies.  Elected Members of Rajya Sabha representing the whole of the State as they do, may select works for implementation in one or more districts as they may choose.  Nominated Members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select works for implementation in one or more districts anywhere in the country.

3.Each Member will have a choice to suggest to the District Collector works to the tune of Rupees two crores.  The per year allocation of Rs. two crores will be released in two installments of Rupees one crore each.  First in the month of April and second in September of  each year.

4.It would be desirable that MPs suggest individual works not more than Rs. 25 lakhs for work.

5.MP may contribute the entire amount of rupees two crores accruing to them in a year for rehabilitation works in the events of the natural calamity of rare severity in any parts of the country.

The MPLADS Committee looks into all aspect of the list of works permissible under the guidelines issued in this regard by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.  The Committee monitors the timely release of funds by the Ministry to the District Collectors, proper and timely execution of the recommended works by the Members and suggest measures  for removal of   bottlenecks.  It also forwards the grievances of the Members to the Ministry and suggests measures  for their speedy disposal so as to inform the Members from time to time.

The Committee holds meetings at regular intervals to examine the various issues referred to it by the Members, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation and Lok Sabha Committee on MPLADS and recommends its views for an amendment to the guidelines wherever  necessary.

The Reports of the Committee are presented to the House from time to time by the Chairperson.

(11) Committee on Provision of Computers --The Committee on Provision of Computers to Members of Rajya Sabha was constituted by Hon’ble Chairman, Rajya Sabha on 18th March, 1997. The Committee functions to give effect to the Provision of Computers to Members of Parliament and Officers-Rules and Procedures- 1995. The Committee consists of 7 members who are nominated by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha. The Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha is the Chairman of the Committee. Casual vacancies in the Committee are filled by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha and in order to constitute a meeting of the Committee, the quorum is three members. The main functions of the Committee are to decide on the areas and activities to be computerised for the benefit of the Members, to decide the norms for provision of computers, hardware and software to Members and the terms and conditions applicable to Members and to lay down policy guidelines for training to Members.

(12) Committee on Ethics-The Committee on Ethics of  Rajya Sabha was constituted by the Chiarman, Rajya Sabha, Shri K.R. Narayanan on 4th March, 1997.  The Committee consists of ten members including the Chairman of the Committee who are nominated by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha.  Leaders and in the event of their being Minister, Deputy Leaders or Chief Whips of the Political Parties/Groups are generally  nominated to the Committee.  Casual vacancies in the Committee are filled by nomination by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha.  The Chairman of the Committee is nominated by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha.

            The Committee has to oversee the moral and ethical conduct of the members and to examine  cases referred to it with reference to ethical and other misconduct of  members.

In all respects of procedure and other matters,  rules applicable to the Committee of Privileges apply to the Committee on Ethics with such variations and modifications as the Chairman, Rajya Sabha may, from time to time, make.

            The reports  of the Committee are presented to the House by the Chairman  of the Committee or in his absence by any other member of the Committee from time to time.

B. Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees (Rules 268-277 of the Rules of Procedure)

The following Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees are constituted under rule 268 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Rajya Sabha and rule 331C of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha:

1. Committee on Commerce

2. Committee on Home Affairs

3. Committee on Human Resource Development

4. Committee on Industry

5.Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests

6. Committee on Transport and Tourism

7. Committee on Agriculture

8. Committee on Information Technology

9. Committee on Defence

10. Committee on Energy

11. Committee on External Affairs

12. Committee on Finance

13. Committee on Food, Civil Supplies and Public Distribution

14. Committee on Labour and Welfare

15. Committee on Petroleum and Chemicals

16. Committee on Railways

17. Committee on Urban and Rural Development

Each of the above mentioned Department-related Parliamentary Standing committees is related to the Ministries/Departments as specified in the Third Schedule to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Rajya Sabha' and consists of 45 members, 15 members nominated by the Chairman from amongst the members of the Rajya Sabha and 30 members nominated by the Speaker from amongst the members of the Lok Sabha. Out of the 17 Committees, the Committees mentioned against serial No. 1 to 6 are under the administrative control of the Chairman, Rajya Sabha and their Chairmen are appointed by him. The remaining 11 Committees are under the administrative control of the Speaker, Lok Sabha who appoints their Chairmen. A member of the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee holds office for a term not exceeding one year at a time . Allocation  of seats in the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees   to all the parties including the independent/nominated Members is done on the basis of proportional representation.   Based on the numerical strength of various parties in Rajya Sabha, total  slots available to each party in all the  17 Committees, as also the maximum slots available  to each party in every Committee is determined. This allocation of  slots is communicated to Leaders of all the major parties/groups in Rajya Sabha (having their  numerical strength 5 or more) for recommending the names of their Members for nomination by Chairman, Rajya Sabha  to the Committees.  Ministers  cannot be nominated as Members of these Committees.    Nomination of members belonging  to smaller parties/ groups (having numerical strength less then 5) and independent/nominated members is done  by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha  on the basis of requests received,   professional background  of the Member etc.,  subject to availability  of vacancies in the Committee.

  In case of major parties, any request for nomination /change in nomination  should come  through the concerned Party leader.   If a Member is appointed as a Minister subsequent to his nomination on the Committee, he ceases to be member of the Committee.

These Committee are entrusted with the following functions:

(a) to consider the Demands for Grants of the related Ministries/Departments and report thereon. The report can  not suggest anything of the nature of cut motions;

 (b) to examine Bills, pertaining to the related Ministries/ departments, referred to the Committee by the Chairman or the Speaker, as the case may be, and report thereon;

(c) to consider the annual reports of the Ministries/ Departments and report thereon; and

(d) to consider national basic long-term policy documents presented to the Houses, if referred to the Committee by the Chairman or the Speaker, as the case may be, and report thereon.

These Standing Committees are  barred from considering matters of day-today administration of the related Ministries/Departments.

After the general discussion on the Budget in the Houses is over, the Houses are adjourned for a fixed period (Budget recess), of about 3-4 weeks.  During this period the Demands for Grants of related Ministries/Departments are considered by these Committees which also hear oral  presentation from the Ministries.  The Committees present their reports to both Houses  at the  commencement of the  second  half of the Budget Session.

At  other times, Department-related  Committees meet to consider Bills introduced  in either House and referred to them, or matters of policy, including Annual Reports of the Ministries.  Reports of Department-related Committees  in addition to  being  presented/tabled in the Houses are also sent to the Ministries concerned but the recommendations are not  binding, having only a persuasive   value, as considered advice  of a Parliamentary Committee.

 Committees are  assisted and served by Committee Sections, each headed by a Committee Officer, and supervised by the  Under Secretary and Deputy Secretary/Director.  A  Joint Secretary/Additional Secretary  generally coordinates the management of  all the  Committee Sections.  The Committee Sections make the arrangements for the   Committee meetings, circulate papers  for the meetings,  provide back ground  material,  maintain the minutes and draft the Committee Reports

Committee meetings are generally of two  types:- meetings to consider  memoranda and/or consider draft reports and meetings to hear evidence.  The  former  are more informal and  memoranda and other papers are circulated by the  Committee Sections.

Meetings  to hear evidence are    formal and  structured  and all questions to the witnesses are to be put by Members with the  permission of the Chairman.

The proceedings of the Committees are confidential.  No member or witness can make them public.   The Committee reports are open to discussion once they are  presented to the House.

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