2023 GS2 Answer

Q. Explain the structure of the Parliamentary Committee system. How far have the financial committees helped in the institutionalisation of Indian Parliament?

Question from UPSC Mains 2023 GS2 Paper

Model Answer: 

Parliamentary Committee system in India

Parliamentary Committee system in India is an integral part of the legislative process. It is designed to provide a forum for detailed scrutiny and discussion of various issues, bills, and policies. The committees are constituted by the presiding officers of both houses of Parliament, and they play a crucial role in maintaining the oversight of the executive’s actions and ensuring accountability. The financial committees, in particular, have been instrumental in the institutionalisation of Indian Parliament, enhancing its effectiveness and efficiency.

Structure of the Parliamentary Committee system:

1. Types of Committees: There are two types of committees – Standing and Ad Hoc. Standing committees are permanent, with their existence and terms of reference laid down in the Rules of Procedure. On the other hand, Ad Hoc committees are temporary, formed for a specific purpose and disbanded after their task is completed.

2. Composition: The composition of the committees is roughly proportional to the strength of the political parties in Parliament. The members are nominated by the Speaker or the Chairman, and they usually serve for a term of one year.

3. Functioning: The committees function in a non-partisan manner, with their meetings being ‘in-camera’. The reports of the committees are usually exhaustive and provide a detailed analysis of the issue at hand.

Role of Financial Committees:

1. Public Accounts Committee (PAC): The PAC scrutinizes the appropriation and finance accounts of the government and reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). It ensures that public money is spent in accordance with the Parliament’s decision and brings to light cases of waste, extravagance, or corruption.

2. Estimates Committee: This committee examines the estimates included in the budget and suggests economies in public expenditure. It ensures that funds allocated are used efficiently.

3. Committee on Public Undertakings (COPU): COPU examines the reports and accounts of public undertakings and assesses their efficiency, performance, and profit or loss.

Institutionalisation of Indian Parliament:

The financial committees have greatly contributed to the institutionalisation of the Indian Parliament. They have enhanced the Parliament’s control over public expenditure and ensured financial accountability of the executive. They have also brought about greater transparency and efficiency in the functioning of public undertakings.

For instance, the PAC’s scrutiny of the 2G spectrum allocation highlighted the irregularities in the process, leading to significant policy changes. Similarly, the Estimates Committee’s recommendations have often led to savings in public expenditure.


The Parliamentary Committee system is a vital aspect of India’s democratic framework, ensuring a detailed, thorough, and expert scrutiny of legislative and policy matters. The financial committees, in particular, have played a pivotal role in strengthening the financial accountability of the executive, thereby contributing to the institutionalisation of the Indian Parliament. However, for these committees to function optimally, it is essential to ensure their independence, enhance their research support, and improve the follow-up mechanism on their recommendations.

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