India’s political system is correctly described as Cabinet Government. While the Council of Minister has constitutional status, Cabinet does not get a mention in constitution. Its powers are defined from convention and usages. Theoretically, the full executive is the Council of Ministers, however, in reality, Cabinet is more important, influential and powerful than the full council.
Committees are basically an organisational device for increasing output of any busy and overloaded agency. It is a method of getting a more specialized and larger volume of work performed by any organisation.
This device enables ministers to bargain and compromise with each other and thus reduces the pressure of work upon Cabinet. Consequently, Cabinet is left free to devote itself to more important matters.
In the transaction of Cabinet business, committee has been found immense useful, its major advantages are:
1. The committees of the Cabinet save the time of the Cabinet because issues are discussed in these committees in detail and only key issues are brought out for the decisions of Cabinet. Thus, it makes the task of the Cabinet much easier.
2. The committee system safeguards the principle of collective responsibility, which is the basic feature of Cabinet system. The Cabinet includes small number of ministers and those who are not members of the Cabinet didn’t participate in its meetings. Hence, not able to take part in decision making process but they are collectively responsible for such decisions. Such ministers can be included in the cabinet committees.
3. These committees can also act as a collective check on individual ministers and on the Prime Minister too.
4. The cabinet committees focus supra-ministry attention on particular sector administration, short of cabinet level consideration and PM’s level intervention. These committees facilitate the inter-departmental co-ordination.
1. ARC did not find the working of Cabinet Committees satisfactory. ARC observed that some of the committees are not meeting regularly.
2. Most of the committees are loaded with cabinet ministers.
3. There is wide variation in strength of various standing committees.
4. PM is Chairman of almost all committees, thus making it difficult for the Cabinet to play the role of revisionary authority.
5. The Cabinet Committee does not always include as member the minister concerned with the subject matter. This makes committee less effective for quick action.
Administrative Reform Commission recommendations:
1. There should be 11 standing committees. Membership of each committee should not normally exceed 6 and should include all minister in-charge of subjects covered by the committee.
2. Every standing committee should be supported by a committee of secretaries which will consider in advance all matters to be taken up by the cabinet committee.
3. Purpose of ad-hoc committees should be confined to mere investigation and not decision making.
It can be said, efficiency of the cabinet, indeed, hinges on the effective functioning of the Cabinet committees. A small number of persons working as a well-knit body will, no doubt, be able to dispose of business with expedition and efficiency and will minimize the need for co-ordinating devices.
Some appreciation please!