Legal Framework for the Parliamentary Oversight of the Executive in India
Volume 6 Issue 3 (2013)
The need for a strong monitoring mechanism of the Executive in India has been made clearer by recent allegations of corruption against high-ranking of officials of the central government. The Indian Parliament is the ideal institution to perform such a monitoring function through oversight of the central executive. The Executive in India is directly accountable to the Parliament. Making oversight by Parliament stronger and more effective would therefore increase the accountability of the executive. Additionally, an increased oversight role would allow for greater policy inputs from Parliament to the executive. It would also increase the general level of expertise within Parliament by making parliamentarians more technocratic and giving them greater avenues for specialization in different aspects of policymaking. This has held true in varying degrees in different countries as examined in this paper. Enacting a law that formalizes mechanisms of over- sight within Parliament, especially within the committee system, can create such a framework in India. The central focus of a strong oversight frame- work is the system of parliamentary committees. Reinvigorating existing committees by giving them greater autonomy, clearer powers and research support are central tenets of the proposals made in this paper. Along with restructuring parliamentary committees, the incentive structure for Indian parliamentarians to conduct oversight is also examined, and proposals are suggested to ensure they perform their oversight function effectively. Such a law should reshape the way Parliamentary business is conducted with a view to holding government accountable, while at the same time allowing the central executive to function independently, and with greater efficiency.