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Features of Cabinet Committees

In this article we will discuss Features of Cabinet Committees

In this article, we will discuss Features of Cabinet Committees. So, let’s get started.

Features of Cabinet Committees

The following are the features of Cabinet Committees:
They are extra-constitutional in emergence. In other words, they are not mentioned in the Constitution. However, the Rules of Business provide for their establishment.
They are of two types-standing and ad hoc. The former are of a permanent nature while the latter are of a temporary nature. The ad hoc committees are constituted from time to time to deal with special problems. They are disbanded after their task is completed.
They are set up by the Prime Minister according to the exigencies of the time and requirements of the situation. Hence, their number, nomenclature, and composition varies from time to time.
Their membership varies from three to eight. They usually include only Cabinet Ministers. However, the non-cabinet Ministers are not debarred from their membership.
They not only include the Ministers in charge of subjects covered by them but also include other senior Ministers.
They are mostly headed by the Prime Minister. Some times other Cabinet Ministers, particularly the Home Minister or the Finance Minister, also acts as their Chairman. But, in case the Prime Minister is a member of a committee, he invariably presides over it.
They not only sort out issues and formulate proposals for the consideration of the
Cabinet, but also take decisions. However, the Cabinet can review their decisions.
They are an organisational device to reduce the enormous workload of the Cabinet. They also facilitate in-depth examination of policy issues and effective coordination. They are based on
the principles of division of labour and effective delegation.

List of Cabinet Committees

In 1994, there were the following 13 Cabinet Committees:
Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs
Cabinet Committee on Natural Calamities
Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs
Appointments Committee of the Cabinet
Cabinet Committee on Accommodation
Cabinet Committee on Foreign Investment
Cabinet Committee on Drug Abuse Control
Cabinet Committee on Prices
Cabinet Committee on Minority Welfare
Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs
Cabinet Committee on Trade and Investment
Cabinet Committee on Expenditure
Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure
In 2013, the following 10 Cabinet Committees
were in existence:
Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs
Cabinet Committee on Prices
Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs
Appointments Committee of the Cabinet
Cabinet Committee on Security
Cabinet Committee on World Trade Organisation (WTO) Matters
Cabinet Committee on Investment
Cabinet Committee on Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) related issues
Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs
Cabinet Committee on Accommodation

At present (2019), the following & Cabinet Committees are functional:
Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs
Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs
Appointments Committee of the Cabinet
Cabinet Committee on Security
Cabinet Committee on Parliamentury Affairs
Cabinet Committee on Accommodation
Cabinet Committee on Investment and Growth
Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development

Functions of Cabinet Committees
The following four are the more important cabinet committees:
The Political Affairs Comınittee deals with all policy matters pertaining to domestic and foreign affairs.
The Economic Affairs Committee directs and coordinates the governmental activities in the economic sphere.
Appointments Committee decides all higher level appointments in the Central Secretariat, Public Enterprises, Banks and Financial Institutions.
Parliamentary Affairs Committee looks after the progress of government business in the Parliament.

The first three committees are chaired by the Prime Minister and the last one by the Home Minister of all the Cabinet Committees, the most powerful is the Political Affairs Committee, often described as a “Super-Cabinet”.

Group of Ministers
In ad Group look into different issues / subjects. Some of  these GOMs are empowered to take decisions on be half of the Cabinet whereas the others make recommendations to the Cabinet.
The institution of GoMs has become aviable and effective instrument of coordination among the ministries. These are ad hoc bodies formed to give recommendations to the cabinet on certain emergent issues and critical problem areas. Ministers heading the concerned ministries are inducted into the relevant GOMs and when the advice is crystallised they are disbanded.
The Second Administrative Reform Commission (2005-2009) made the following observations and recommendations with respect to the working of the GoMs:
The Commission observed that the constitution of a large number of GoMs has resulted in many GoMs not being able to meet regularly to complete their work thus leading to significant delays on many major issues.
The Commission felt that more selective use of the institution of GoMs would perhaps lead to more effective coordination particularly if they are empowered to arrive at a decision on behalf of the Cabinet with time limits that are prescribed for completing the work entrusted to them.
The Commission recommended that there is need to ensure that the existing coordination mechanism of GoMs function effectively and helps in early resolution of issues. Selective, but effective use of GoMs with clear mandate and prescribed time limits would be helpful.

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