কমিটি কিভাবে কাজ করে

The term 'Committee'-meaning a parliamentary committee-has been defined in the Rules of Procedure of Bangladesh Parliament as a committee ‘set up by or under the authority of Parliament and includes its sub-committees'. Formation of parliamentary committees, their powers and responsibilities as well as procedures followed by them or in respect of them are regulated by relevant provisions in the Constitution, the Rules of procedure, parliamentary conventions and rulings of the Speaker.

 

The Constitutional Basis of the Committee System
The committee system in Jatiyo Sangsad has its roots in the Constitution itself. The foundation of the system has been laid down by its Article 76, which is quoted below:-

  1. Parliament shall appoint from among its members the following standing committees. that is to say-
    1. a public accounts committee;
    2. committee of privileges; and
    3. such other standing committees as the rules of procedure of Parliament require.
  2. In addition to the committees referred to in clause (1), Parliament shall appoint other standing committees, and a committee so appointed may, subject to this Constitution and to any other law:
    1. examine draft bills and other legislative proposals :
    2. review the enforcement of laws and propose measures for such enforcement;
    3. in relation to any matter referred to it by Parliament as a matter of public importance, investigate or inquire into the activities or administration of a Ministry and may require it to furnish, through an authorised representative, relevant information and to answor question, orally or in writing;
    4. perform any other function assigned to it by Parliament.
  3. parliament may by law confer on committees appointed under this article powers for:
    1. enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them on oath, affirmation or otherwise;
    2. compelling the production of document.
    3. These provisions in our Constitution are unique in the sense that provisions regarding Parliamentary Committees are not generally mentioned in the constitution of a country. The aforesaid article of the constitution has given the Standing Committees the status of constitutional bodies.

The Rules of procedure provide for three categories of committees:

  • Select Committees
  • Special Committees
  • Standing Committees

While a select Committee is established to examine a Bill referred to it and report to Parliament, the scope of a Special Committee can be much wider its composition and functions are specified in the motion for its appointment. Tenure of a Select Committee or Special Committee ends with the submission of its final report to Parliament based on the terms of its reference.

All other Committees of the Bangladesh parliament, other than Select Committees and Special Committees, are termed Standing Committees, although the word ‘Standing' does not preface some of the committees four of these committees are nominated by the Speaker While the rest are appointed by the House. Some information on the nominated and appointed standing Committees are given in the two tables below:

 

Standing Committees Nominated by the Speaker

SN Name of Committees
Number of Members
Chairman
1. Business Advisory Committee
15
Speaker ex-Officio
2. House Committee
12
Nominated by Speaker
3. library Committee
10
Deputy Speaker ex-Officio
4. Committee on Petitions
10
Nominated by Speaker

 

Standing Committees Appointed by the House

SN Committees
Number of Members
Chairman
1. Privileges
10
Appointed by parliament
2. Public Accounts
15
Appointed by parliament
3. Public Undertakings
10
Appointed by parliament
4. Estimates
10
Appointed by parliament
5. Govt. Assurances
8
Appointed by parliament
6. Private Member's Bills and Resolutions
10
Appointed by parliament
7. Rules of Procedure
12
Appointed by parliament
8. Standing Committees on Ministries (one for each Ministry)
10 (in each Committee)
Appointed by parliament

A Minister cannot sit as Chairperson or as a Member of the Committee on Petitions. Among the standing committees appointed by the House, there are three committees where too a Minister cannot sit either as Chairperson or as a Member. These committees are standing Committee on Public Accounts, the Committee on Estimates and the Committee on Public Undertakings. A Member elected to any of these four committees vacates his/her position in the Committee if she or he is appointed a Minister. A Minister cannot chair a standing Committee on a Ministry.

The Standing Committees on Ministries, known in some Parliaments as Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSCs),form the largest group of committees. Each of them essentially performs identical functions in relation to the respective ministry. Beginning with only 11 committees in 1974, there has been a steady increase in the number, functions and frequency of meetings of a Standing Committee on a Ministry. A Standing Committee on a Ministry is required to meet at least a month and has the following functions to perform:

  • to examine draft Bills and other legislative proposals;
  • to review the work relating to the Ministry;
  • to inquire into any activity or irregularity and serious complaint with respect to the Ministry;
  • to examine any Bill or other Matters referred to it by Parliament; and
  • to examine any other matter within its jurisdiction.

If a meeting of a standing Committee on a Ministry is not held as stipulated in the Rules, the Speaker is authorised to convene a meeting of the Committee. The Standing Committees on Ministries in Bangladesh are among the most powerful Parliamentary Committees by virtue of the powers and functions given to them by the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure.

 

Salient Features of the parliamentary Committee System Formation

The committee System of Jatiyo Sangsad established under the provisions of the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure consisted of 46 Standing Committees in the seventh Parliament. The number of committees in the eighth parliament may be even higher since the government have formed two new ministries. It may be recalled that the rules provide for on one committee for each ministry besides some others. The rules also provide for select Committees and Special Committees.
The committee-system is not limited to the standing committees, select committees and special committees alone. A committee can appoint a sub-committee who enjoy almost similar powers like a main committee. More than 80 sub-committees were formed during the tenure of the seventh parliament.

 

Tenure of Committees

All standing committees of Jatiyo Sangsad have a permanent character. usually, a committee once formed continues until dissolution of Parliament. Such a long tenure of committees are not to found in other parliaments. All committees appointed by India's Lok Sabha have a term of one year. These include Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSCs) which can be compared to our Standing Committees on Ministries. A Committee nominated by the Speaker of Lok Sabha also has a term of one year.

In view of this long tenure, the Parliamentary Committees in Jatiyo Sangsad get ample time to complete their tasks. Members of the committees can obtain detailed information on matters connected with their committees and can contribute significantly to the government's decision making process in the relevant field. Parliament can, however, reconstitute a committee any time. Such reconstitution becomes necessary on appointment of a member of a committee as a Minister or to accommodate a member who has been elected in a bye-election. However, the tenure of a special committee or a select committee ends with the performance of its assigned responsibility.

 

Duties and Powers of Parliamentary Committees

Until recently the functions of some committees in the House of Commons used to be referred to as ‘Watchdog' Function. It used to be said that there is a lot of shouting in a committee meeting but a parliamentary committee could not scratch or bite anyone because it had neither the claws nor the teeth to do so.However,times have changed and the Parliamentary Committees have now emerged as effective tools in the process of accountability of the Government, In this context , we find these days the use of the term oversight or over-seeing function to describe a very important function of parliamentary Committees.

Our constitution has vested the executive powers of the Republic on the Prime Minister to be exercised by him/her or on his/her authority. Thus it follows that the Parliamentry Committees cannot exercise any executive powers. This is true of all parliamentary systems including that of Britain. However, one must hasten to add the parliamentary committees have not been barred from making any recommendations on matters assigned to the executive branch. On the contrary, the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure Have given certain powers to the Standing committees of each of the Ministries. The Rules of procedure state that:

The functions of a Committee shall be to examine any bill or other matter referred to it by Parliament, to review the works relating to a Ministry which falls within its jurisdiction, to inquire into any activity or irregularity and serious complaint in respect of the Ministry and to examine, if it deems fit, any such other matter as may fall within its jurisdiction and to make reccommendations.''

This provision has constitutional basis as may be seen in Article 76(2) of the Constitution. The Standing committees on ministries can review the enforecement of laws and the activities of the ministries or inquire into any activity or irregularity or serious complaints. Thus standing Committees in jatiyo Sangsad enjoy authority and can exercise powers of a kind not to be found in other parliamentary systems. rule 203 of the Rules of procedure empowers a committee to summon any records, documents and persons that it may require for investigation. However, a question may be raised by the concerned person whether his own presence or production of documents in his possession is relevant to the work of the committee. Should a controversy of this nature arise, the Speaker is vested with powers to give a final decision. The government may decline to produce a document on the ground that its disclosure would be prejudicial to the safety or interest of the state. A parliamentary Committee may administer oath to a witness to be examined before it. A member of a committee or any other person cannot make any disclosure of any evidence given by a witness before it is placed in the House.

 

Report of Parliamentary Committees

The Rules of Procedure provide that the report of a committee has to be presented within a month of the date on which reference to the Committee was made, if the House has not fixed any time for presentation of the report. A report may be preliminary or final . The Chairman, on behalf of a Committee, submits reports before the House under his signature. If the Chairman is not present, any other member of the Committee can be nominated to present the report on behalf of the committee. In the fifth Parliament some of the committee reports were laid in the House with signatures of all members of the Committee.. A committee report is considered confidential until it is presented in the House.

Reports of parliamentary committees are presented in Parliament but most of them are not discussed .There are clear provisions regarding disposal of reports of the Committee on Privileges and the Standing Committee on Rules of Procedure. The disposal of reports of select committee on bills have also been mentioned in detail in the legislative procedures of parliament. The parliamentary committees whose reports are not discussed in the House include the Public Accounts
Committee, Public Undertakings Committee, Estimates Committee, Committee on Government Assurances and the Standing Committees on Ministries. Except in special circumstances, there is hardly any need for presentation of report of the Business Advisory Committee. House Committee and the Library Committee.

There is an unwritten rule or practice in the Jatiyo Sangsad in respect of parliamentary committees, which are presented in the House but are not discussed.A report of this kind when presented in the House is considered to have been referred to the concerned ministry for implementation. The report of the Public Accounts Committee is a proper example of this kind. The Public Accounts Committee gives their views on the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General and places recommendations in parliament for implementation by the respective ministries. It is the responsibility of a concerned ministry to implement the report of the Public Accounts Committee. Should a ministry be unable to implement any of the recommendations the same has to be conveyed to the committee in the form of a clarification. This unwritten rule is applicable to most other committees of Parliament as well, including the Standing committees on Ministries.

 

Consensus in the Parliamentary Committees.

One happy feature that characteries the working of parliamentary standing committees of Jatiyo Sangsad in respect of their oversight function is that decisions in Committees are largely unanimous. In a few cases where unanimity could not be achieved of decisions and recommendations were taken on the basis of consensus . Minutes of committee meetings bears testimony to this statement. Unanimity and consensus is however limited to committees performing oversight functions only . Instances of disagreement in committees examining bills referred to them are not rare.