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Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. To what extent, in your view, the Parliament is able to ensure accountability of the executive in India? (150 words)

    17 May, 2022 GS Paper 2 Polity & Governance

    Approaches

    • Briefly write about Parliamentary form of government.
    • Discuss the various ways Parliament ensures accountability of the executive.
    • Explain the constraints in ensuring accountability.
    • Conclude by stating some suggestions.

    Answer

    The Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary form of government, where the Executive is responsible to the Parliament for its policies and acts. The parliamentary democracy provides for a daily assessment of accountability of the executive to the legislature.

    The Parliament ensures the accountability of the Executive in the following ways

    • Question-hour, zero hour, calling attention motion, adjournment motion, no-confidence motion, censure motion, and other discussions.
    • MPs may pose questions to ministers related to the implementation of laws and policies by the government.
    • Budgetary control for appropriation of grants and post-budgetary control through committees like Public Accounts Committees.
    • The system of committees – such as standing committees, select committees and adhoc committees etc. – facilitate scrutiny of the actions and activities of the executive.
    • Nevertheless, there have been some recent instances wherein the Parliament was found to be unable to ensure accountability of the executive:
    • Evading the route of debates/discussions/checks, such in the cases of Aadhaar Act (money bill route), farm laws (use of voice vote mechanism), etc.
    • The Parliament side-lined the parliamentary institutions as lesser bills were referred to parliamentary committees.
    • Due to lack in coordination and decorum, there were disruptions during the sessions and question hour registered low productivity.

    Thus, though the Parliament seems to be quite empowered to hold the political executive to account, there are several limitations and constraints over this power in practice. Some such constraints may be enumerated as follows:

    • Dominance of the majority party or majority coalition in the parliament.
    • The compulsions of anti-defection law and the role of party whips.
    • Complex and technically complicated presentation of policies, laws and the budgets.
    • Frequent use of exceptional provisions of the Constitution like ordinance making power.

    To ensure complete accountability of the Executive to the Parliament, some steps need to be taken. One can accommodate the 15-point reform charter as suggested by the Vice President. It is also required to make the committee system function effectively and efficiently by ensuring that the members of the committee are nominated on the basis of domain knowledge and for a longer assured term.

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