What are Cabinet Committees? What are its role and features? What are its advantages and criticism? To answer all these questions, read further.
A Cabinet committee is a collection of ministers that has the authority to make decisions that are binding on all other ministries and departments.
The prime minister can create groups of three to eight ministers to thoroughly investigate policy issues to lighten the burden of the cabinet. These organizations are referred to as “cabinet committees”.
At present there are 8 Cabinet Committees:
- Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs.
- Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
- Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.
- Cabinet Committee on Security.
- Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs.
- Cabinet Committee on Accommodation.
- Cabinet Committee on Investment and Growth.
- Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development.
The President shall set rules for the more convenient transaction of the Gol’s business and the distribution among them.
According to Ashok Kumar Jain vs. PIO (Ministry of Power), which addresses decision confidentiality, the decisions of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs fall under Section 8 (1) (1).
According to the 2018 decision Kalpana Mehta v. Union of India, “Parliamentary Standing Committee Report or any Parliamentary Committee Report can be taken judicial notice of and regarded as acceptable in evidence, but it cannot be impeached, attacked, or have its validity questioned.”
Role of Cabinet Committees:
Cabinet Committees serve as an organizing tool to ease the Cabinet’s heavy burden.
They make effective coordination and in-depth analysis of policy concerns possible.
They are founded on the ideas of efficient delegation and labor division.
They make judgments as well as handle problems and formulate ideas for the Cabinet’s consideration. Of course, the Cabinet has the right to evaluate these choices.
Features of the Cabinet Committees:
- Institutional measures like the Cabinet Committee are in place to lighten the strain on the Cabinet.
- They are Extra-Constitutional in emergence, meaning they are not listed in the constitution. The Rules of Business call for their establishment.
- The Constitution’s Article 77(3), which provides that the President “shall make regulations for the more convenient conduct of the business of the Government of India, and the allocation among Ministers of said business,” gives rise to these provisions.
- They come in two forms:
- The Prime Minister appoints members to the Cabinet’s Standing Committees and specifies their specific responsibilities. He has the authority to change the number of committees (E.g. added two committees in 2019). Because of this, their number, nomenclature, and makeup change with time.
- They can have three to eight members. Typically, they are limited to Cabinet Ministers. Though non-cabinet Ministers are not excluded from membership.
- The 1961 Government of India Transaction of Business Rules governs how Indian executives conduct business.
- They comprise senior Ministers in addition to the Ministers in charge of the relevant subjects.
- The Prime Minister always serves as the committee’s chair when he is a member of it.
- The Home Minister or the Finance Minister frequently serves as the chairman of other Cabinet committees.
- They make judgments in addition to resolving problems and developing ideas for the Cabinet’s consideration. The Cabinet can, however, reconsider its choices.
Advantages of Cabinet Committees:
- They are a method of organization to lessen the heavy workload of the Cabinet. They support effective decision-making.
- In-depth policy analysis and efficient coordination are made possible. The specialist’s opinions can be consulted while formulating policies.
- They support the concept of collective responsibility by preserving it. And the government’s stance is reflected in its decisions.
- The committees enable the effective use of both human and financial resources.
- These committees are built on the division of labor principle, which promotes the effective use of human resources.
- They facilitate intergovernmental and departmental coordination.
- It prevents ministers from acting arbitrarily and maintains the PM’s control over the cabinet and administration.
- For legislative matters where the allocation of business rules falls under the purview of two or more ministries, all ministries are asked to provide a cabinet note for the draft law.
- The Cabinet committee makes recommendations based on the consensus of various interest groups.
- Setting the agenda for policy discussions aids in the formulation of government policy and enhances policy debate with various high-stakeholder groups and the current administration and the representation of different problems before making decisions.
Criticism of Cabinet Committee:
- As laws were passed through Cabinet committees without their advice, their importance was fading. Consider farm bills.
- Ad hoc cabinet committees are becoming fewer in number, which prevents them from micro-analyzing government decisions.
- Since the PM leads the majority of Cabinet Committees, the importance of other ministers is automatically diminished. He might need to step down from the government if the ministers disagree with him on an issue that is against the Council of Ministers.
- The cabinet committees don’t hold regular meetings and the expert opinions are only taken into account when their political ideologies align with that of the ruling party. Independent Ministers of States are infrequently appointed.
- Conflict of interest cases is brought about by broad jurisdiction. Some ministries have more concentrated power, such as the MHA and MoF, which have the authority to control NGO funding issues.
- There are many instances where a single topic converges to two or more ministries, creating a power struggle between the ministries. Because of this, bureaucratic paralysis in decision-making flourishes.
- No in-depth exploration of the issues. It has frequently been observed that committees tend to shape the issues that have been allocated for examination rather than bringing to light the underlying problem.
The Commission noted that because there are so many Groups of Ministers, many of them are unable to meet regularly to finish their job, which causes considerable delays on many important matters.
The Commission believed that using the institution of a Group of Ministers more sparingly would result in more effective coordination, especially if they are given the authority to make decisions on behalf of the Cabinet with deadlines set for completing the work assigned to them.
The Commission suggested that steps be taken to ensure that the Group of Ministers’ current coordination mechanism operates well and aids in problem resolution as soon as possible. judicious but efficient usage of a Group of Ministers with a specific mandate and time limit.
The PM’s responsibility is to only chair important committees. The functions of the Group of Ministries and the Cabinet Committee should be equally distributed. There should be a balance between the group of ministers and the cabinet committees. Any of these in excess hinder effective government.
India should adopt the procedures used by the Cabinet Committees of New Zealand and Britain to protect the secret of the government’s future final policy and prevent market speculation. For instance, there was market speculation before the announcement of the PLI incentive sector.
Meetings of the Cabinet Committees should be held regularly. For administrative simplicity and policy formation, the Committees should promote apolitical ideas.
Cabinet and Cabinet Committees should have a relationship based on the saying “Swim or Sink Together.”
Article written by Chetna Yadav.
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