COMMITTEE ON QUESTIONS & REFERENCES
SCOPE AND FUNCTIONS OF THE COMMITTEE ON QUESTIONS AND REFERENCES
In parliamentary system the control of the Legislature over Executive is based on the basic principle that the legislature should represent the aims and aspirations of the people. Thus, it becomes the responsibility of the legislature to ensure that the Government fulfils the desires and expectations of the people. The representatives of the people in the legislature get enough opportunity to know and understand the responsibilities and working of various departments of the Government during the course of legislative process in regard to the policies of the Government and short-comings in their implementation and the people’s representatives get enough opportunities to draw the attention of the Government towards them and also to make substantial suggestions in that regard. In the same way whereas the grievances, aspirations and complaints of the people are brought to the notice of the government through Assembly Questions, the people at the same time also get information regarding the activities, programmes and policies of the Government.
The activities of the Government come under constant review and examination through questions. The Ministers are required to be prepared for any unforeseen situation. The Chair regulates the questions and answers amongst the Members and the Ministers. There are occasions when the Members are not satisfied with the replies given by the Ministers and a tense atmosphere gets created during the Question Hour creating an embarrassing situation for the Presiding Officer. In such situation the replies given by the Government do not satisfy the members. The Government does not have in its possession complete information at that time and there is chaos in the House.
In these circumstances, the Speaker considered it desirable that the Rules Committee may consider the question of constitution of a Committee on Questions and References on the pattern of the Committee constituted in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh Assemblies. Thus on the recommendation of the Rules Committee provisions in regard to the constitution of Committee on Questions and References were made in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Punjab Vidhan Sabha (Punjab Legislative Assembly) by adding new Rules 251(G) and 251(H), which are reproduced hereunder: -
(1) There shall be a Committee on Questions & References consisting of nine members.
(2)The Committee shall be nominated by the Speaker and shall hold office for a term not exceeding one year.
The functions of the Committee shall be –
(i) to examine such matters, as may be referred to it by the Speaker, from time to time, regarding Starred, Unstarred or Short Notice Questions;
(ii) to report to the House whether there has been any unreasonable delay in giving replies, oral or written, and whether such replies, if given, are satisfactory or not; and to suggest the remedial measures therefor; and
(iii) to examine and suggest remedial measures in respect of any important policy matter raised by a Member during debates in the House, as may be referred to it by the Speaker.
Internal working rules have also been framed to facilitate the smooth working of the Committee.