TODAY -

Roles and responsibilities of Members of Parliament

Oinam Nabakishore Singh *



The General Election to the 17th Lok Sabha (House of the People) is now knocking at the door as the Election Commission of India is expected to announce the schedule of dates of filing of nomination, poll and counting of results very shortly. People in Manipur, as in other parts of India, are asking themselves on the political party and candidate, who should be elected to the Parliament to represent them.

With the rise in awareness about the powers and responsibilities of Parliament, especially in the context of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, which will be having a bearing on the people of Manipur in particular and North-Eastern region of India in general, people will minutely scrutinize the candidates and political party in the ensuing election. They will be extra cautious to ensure that the interest of the state and its people are protected in the Parliament.

The composition of the House of People (Lok Sabha) is provided in Article 81(1) of the Constitution of India-Subject to the provisions of article 331, the House of the People shall consist of-
(a) not more than five hundred and twenty-five members chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the States, and
(b) not more than twenty members to represent the Union territories, chosen in such manner as Parliament may by law provide. The term of each Member of Parliament is five years.

Main job of a member of parliament is to participate at debates leading to legislation. Sometimes, when there are disagreement over the bill in terms of objective, content or any other issue, the same is referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee to come up with recommendations.

The MPs have a chance to minutely examine the bill from different perspectives. In the context of Manipur and North-East India, the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, our MPs could have vehemently opposed it as well as lobbied with leaders of various political parties to stop it from being passed.

Members of Parliament can seek information on any important subject from the concerned Union Minister by asking starred and or un-starred questions in any session of the Parliament.

In case of starred questions, there is scope for asking further supplementary questions by the member. The answers from the Minister, being truthful and authentic, are quite helpful in many respects, which may not be easily available to the people. Questions and replies to Parliament questions are uploaded on the websites of the concerned Ministries as well that of Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.

Members of Parliament are nominated as members of two or three Parliamentary Committees, which are mini Parliament in respect of the proceedings and power. They deal with complex and voluminous works, which otherwise cannot be done in Parliament.

Public Accounts Committee, Committee on Estimates and Committee on Public Undertakings are Standing Finance Committees, which go deep into the works of the executive branch of the government.

Chairman and members of the committee do ask several questions on the functioning of the Ministries, Departments, Public Sector Undertakings and Autonomous Organizations and also make recommendations for the improvement in their functions.

Parliamentary Standing Committees and Consultative Committee also examine the works and functioning of Ministries, etc. so as to fully understand their strengths and weaknesses, and come up with recommendations.

When there are specific issues to be studied thoroughly, ad-hoc committees like Joint Parliamentary Committee comprising of members from both houses of Parliament are constituted. They get dissolved as and when their reports are submitted to the Parliament.

Several important issues, which require deep knowledge and understanding by the Members of Parliament, are discussed and debated in Parliament and its Committees. The complexity of the issues is quite varied. For instance, while working as a member of Parliamentary Committee on Commerce, it is helpful if the member has good knowledge of international business and trade.


* Oinam Nabakishore Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on March 06 2019.



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