Parliamentary oversight of administration is not an end in itself rather it acts as a means to strengthen the efficient functioning of administration. Discuss.

The constitution of India provides for the separation of power between the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary. The executive (council of ministers) is responsible to the parliament (Article 75), which means it works under the overall scrutiny or oversight of the parliament. To ensure this system of checks and balances, various tools have been provided to the parliament to ensure the efficient functioning of the administration.

  • Debates and discussions in both houses via means of question hour, zero hour, various motions, etc.
  • Financial scrutiny – via means of Public Accounts Committee, reports of CAG, pre budgetary discussions, vote on demands of grants, cut motions, etc.
  • Scrutiny over legislation via means of Parliamentary Standing Committees and Department Related Standing Committees, etc.

Challenges in ensuring the functionality of Parliamentary oversight:

  • Suspension of question hour, as done during times of emergency and more recently during the Covid pandemic.
  • Non-functionality of Parliamentary Committees in scrutinizing parliamentary behavior, rules, and other aspects.
  • The recent trends depict the non-passage of bills for select committees.
  • Minimum amount of time spent on discussions.
  • Adoption of money bill route or ordinance route to pass important legislation.

Parliamentary oversight aims at ensuring parliamentary democracy, holding the executive accountable, monitoring the work & ensure the balance of power along with good governance. To ensure a robust system of parliamentary oversight, it is necessary for presiding officers to abide by the principle of neutrality and ensure that mechanisms to ensure accountability are strictly followed in the parliament.

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