2016, a busy year for Parliamentary panels

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on January 16, 2018 Published on December 28, 2016

Public Accounts Committe Chairman KV Thomas

While 2016 was a near wash out for the Parliament sessions, the parliamentary panels did more work. The standing and select committees of Parliament had a full year of working in 2016.

“Compared to 2014 and 2015, 2016 was a productive year for us. We could take everyone along and submit a number of major reports. We could blow the lid on the involvement of a number of big corporate houses in corruption and could ask the Centre to set their records right. Issues like NPAs could be brought before the public’s attention,” said KV Thomas, Chairman, Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The PAC submitted 28 reports — a record according to Thomas — in 2016 and another 12 reports are ready to be tabled in the Budget session.

The public sector banks were hesitant to appear before the PAC when the panel started deliberating on the non performing assets (NPAs). But banks changed their minds after a little prodding from the panel’s chairman and the decision by the then RBI Governor to appear before it.

The PAC studied the NPA issue threadbare and the report is scheduled to be submitted during the next Budget session.

The Opposition, citing the Modi government’s reluctance to send Bills to standing committees, has been arguing that the BJP is subverting Parliamentary system. They alleged that the passage of Aadhaar Bill as a money bill, amendments to FCRA Bill and to the IT Act were brought through the “backdoors” without any consultations in the committees.

“This is absolutely wrong,” says Bhupender Yadav, BJP’s member on the committee.

Bankruptcy code

“Look at the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. It was a path breaking legislation and the entire law was drafted in our committee. The report and the draft Bill was prepared unanimously,” he said. “I have not faced any hurdles from the government or the Opposition in the functioning of committees,” added Yadav, who headed five committees in 2016. The code “consolidates and amended” the laws relating to reorganisation and insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals in a time bound manner. “There is no single law in India that deals with insolvency and bankruptcy,” the report said.

The panel on the Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill also submitted its report in 2016.

Be it the report of Commerce Standing committee on changing industrial scenario or the Law panel’s report on the delay in appointment of judges, several crucial issues concerned with the administration and delivery of governance were dealt in the Parliament panels.

Overall, more than 100 reports were submitted in Parliament by the Standing Committees.

More than a dozen legislations were discussed and debated in these panels. Most of the reports are critical of the Centre’s actions on various policy fronts, even if BJP leaders are heading the panel.

Farm growth worries

“The Committee are distressed to note that the pace of agricultural growth rate is slowly decreasing. The Committee observe that decadal rate of growth of agriculture since beginning of green revolution has decreased significantly from a high of 8.37 per cent during 1960-70 to a low of 1.44 per cent during 1990-2000.

“The rate of agriculture growth has been 2.61 per cent during 2000-2010,” noted a report of Agriculture Standing Committee headed by senior BJP MP Hukmdev Narayan Yadav.

Published on December 28, 2016
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