SCOPE AND FUNCTIONS OF THE COMMITTEE ON SUBORDINATE LEGISLATION
In Parliament the first Committee on Subordinate Legislation was established on Ist December, 1953. In Punjab Vidhan Sabha, the first Committee on Subordinate Legislation was nominated by the Speaker on the 31st August, 1956. The broad principles which govern the work of the Committee are enshrined in rule 242 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Punjab Legislative Assembly, which reads as under :-
"242. After each such order referred to in rule 241 is laid before the House, the Committee shall, in particular, consider :-
Duties of the Committee.
i) Whether it is in accordance with the general objects of the Constitution or the Act pursuant to which it is made;
ii) Whether it contains matter which in the opinion of the Committee should more properly be dealt within an Act of Legislature;
iii) Whether it contains imposition of any tax; iv) Whether it directly or indirectly bars the jurisdiction of the Courts.
v) Whether it gives retrospective effect to any of the provisions in respect of which the Constitution or the Act does not expressly give any such power;
vi) Whether it involves expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of the State or the Public Revenue;
vii) Whether it appears to make some unusual or unexpected use of the powers conferred by the Constitution or the Act pursuant to which it is made;
viii) Whether it appears to have been unjustifiable delay in the publication or laying it before the Legislature;
ix) Whether for any reason its form or purpose calls for any elucidation.
" The Committee, further, have over the years evolved some further guiding principles which are as under :-
i) The Committee not only sees that the Subordinate Legislation does not transgress the limit laid down in the parent law but that it also conforms to the principles of natural justice.
ii) Sometimes, in pursuance of a public policy wide discretionary powers have to be vested in the Executive. It is in such cases that the Committee have to be particularly on the guard against what Sir Cecil Carr termed as "germs if arbitrary administration".
iii) It is well known that no fees can be levied under a rule unless the parent Act expressly authorizes such a levy.
iv) There is another well known maxim that a delegate cannot sub- delegate his Legislative power (delegatus non posttest delegare) unless there is an express authorization to that effect in the parent law.
This Committee is entrusted with the responsibility of seeing whether the authority delegated by the State Legislature in the Statutes has been properly exercised by the Executive to the extent permissible and in the manner envisaged. The Legislature provides for broad principles in the Act which may be called a skeleton. The Legislature does not have sufficient time for the minute details in the Act. It, therefore, delegates the power to frame rules to carry out the purposes of the Act. These rules may be described as flesh and blood which when added to the skeleton, make the Legislation complete and effective.
The Speaker, Lok Sabha while delivering his address to the Committee in December , 1954 had said that the Committee on Subordinate Legislation should not act as the opposition to the executive or to the administration but as a responsible body of persons appointed by Parliament to subject, to detailed scrutiny the fairly voluminous output of Subordinates Legislation in a non-partisan manner taking an independent and detached view. The Committee has to safeguard public interest and to eliminate, as far as possible, the abuse of authority or any encroachment on the powers of the State Legislature.
The Committee first goes through each of the Rules framed under the relevant Act. In the initial stage when the Committee started functioning, a point was raised as to whether the Committee was competent to scrutinize even those Rules which were not laid on the Table of the House. Ultimately, it was decided that the Committee was fully competent to scrutinize such Rules also.
While scrutinizing any Rules, if the Committee feel that any clarification is needed they may send for the representative of the Department concerned to discuss the matter with him before making their recommendation. The procedure in this connection is as follows:-
"When we have received a set of rules, first the Act is read in its entirety. Then the rules are read with reference to the section under which these are purported to have been made. This is called "Preliminary Scrutiny". The Committee makes some observations and, if it feels that some clarification is needed before making final recommendations/observations, the Committee may send for the representative of the department concerned.
At the preliminary scrutiny as well as at the time of the final scrutiny, a representative of the Legal Remembrancer is always present". --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE CONTAINED IN VARIOUS REPORTS OF THE COMMITTEE.
It is also brought to the notice of the Committee that replies from various Government Department intimating the action taken to implement some of the recommendations of the Committee in respect of various Rules/Regulations etc. contained in its various Reports have been received in the Sabha Secretariat. These will also be placed before the Committee for their consideration.