Standing Committee on Defence
Department Related Standing Committee
16th Lok Sabha
FoundedApril 1993; 28 years ago (1993-04)
Country India
Leadership
ChaipersonJual Oram
Chairperson partyBharatiya Janata Party
AppointerLok sabha Speaker
Structure
Seats31
Lok Sabha : 21
Rajya Sabha : 10
Political Parties  BJP (12)

  INC (4)
  AITC (3)
  AIADMK (2)
  TDP (2)
  BJD (2)
  SS (2)
  TRS (1)
  JDS (1)
  SAD (1)

  JDU (1)
Election criteriaThe members are elected every year from amongst its members of respective houses according to the principle of proportional representation.
Tenure1 Year
Jurisdiction
PurposeLegislative oversight of the defence policies and decision making of the Ministry of Defence (MOD)
Rules & Procedure
Applicable rulesRule 331 C through N (page 122 - 125)
Fifth Schedule (page 158)

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence (SCOD) is a department related standing committee (DRSC) of selected members of parliament, constituted by the Parliament of India, for the purpose of legislative oversight of the defence policies and decision making of the Ministry of Defence (MOD). It is one of the 24 DRSCs that have been mandated with the onerous task of ministry specific oversight.

The committee consists of thirty one members, twenty one elected by Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament, and not more than ten members of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament. The members are elected every year from amongst its members of respective houses according to the principle of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote. The chairperson is appointed by the Lok Sabha speaker. The term of office of the members is one year. A minister is not eligible to become a member of the committee. If a member after his election to the committee becomes a Minister, he ceases to be a member from the date of such appointment.[1]

The committee currently is headed by MP Kalraj Mishra, succeeding MP Maj Gen BC Khanduri (Retd.).[2][3]

History

Following the adoption of the Reports of Rules Committees of the 10th Lok Sabha by the two Houses on 29 March 1993, the way was paved for the setting up of the seventeen Departmentally Related Standing Committees(DRSCs) covering under their jurisdiction all the Ministries/Departments of the Union Government. Formally setup in April, 1993, the committee used to consist of 45 members— 30 nominated by the Speaker from amongst the members of Lok Sabha and 15 members nominated by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha from amongst the members of Rajya Sabha.

However, during the re-structuring of DRSCs in July, 2004 by the 14th Lok Sabha, the membership was reduced to 31 members—21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha.

The inaugural chairperson of the committee was Buta Singh, former Minister of Home Affairs (1984–86) and Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (1995-96) and a member of Indian National Congress.

Scope and Working

Functions

The functions of the committee are stated as below :

The Standing Committees shall not consider the matters of day-to-day administration of the department.

Working Procedures

Procedure relating to consideration of Demands for Grants

After the general discussion on the Budget in the House is over, the Lok Sabha is adjourned for a fixed period. The Committee considers the Demands for Grants of the Ministry of Defence under its jurisdiction during the aforesaid period and present/lay reports. The Report on Demands for Grants does not suggest anything of the nature of cut motions. The Demands for Grants are considered by the House in the light of the Reports of the Committee

Procedure relating to consideration of Bills

The Committee considers only such Bills introduced in either of the Houses as are referred to it by the Speaker, Lok Sabha or the Chairman, Rajya Sabha as the case may be. The Committee considers the general principles and clauses of the Bills referred to it and makes Reports thereon within the given time.

Current Composition

Keys:   BJP (12)   INC (4)   AIADMK (2)   AITC (3)   TDP (2)   BJD (2)   SS (2)   TRS (1)   JDS (1)  SAD (1)  JDU (1) = 31 members

Party-wise membership of Standing Committee on Defence

  BJP (40%)
  INC (13.33%)
  AITC (10%)
  AIADMK (6.67%)
  TDPTRS (6.67%)
  BJD (6.67%)
  SS (6.67%)
  TRS (3.33%)
  JDS (3.33%)
  SAD (3.33%)
  JDU (3.33%)
21 Members from 16th Lok Sabha; tenure – May 2018-19
Sr. No. Portrait Name Constituency, state Party
1 Kalraj Mishra[a] Deoria, Uttar Pradesh BJP
2 Suresh Chanabasappa Angadi Belgavi, Karnataka
3 Thupstan Chhewang Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir
4 Sona Ram Choudhary Barmer, Rajasthan
5 Dharambir Singh Bhiwani-Mahendragarh, Haryana
6
Murli Manohar Joshi Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh
7 Rodmal Nagar Rajgarh, Madhya Pradesh
8 Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah Tehri Garhwal, Uttarakhand
9 Rakesh Singh Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh
10 Partha Pratim Ray Coochbehar, West Bengal AITC
11 Dr. Mriganka Mahato Purulia, West Bengal
12 Deepak Adhikari Ghatal, West Bengal
13 Shobha Karandlaje Udupi - Chikmagalur, Karnataka BJP
14 Gaurav Gogoi Kaliabor, Assam
15 A.P. Jithender Reddy Mahabubnagar, Telangana TRS
16 B. Senguttuvan Vellore, Tamil Nadu AIDMK
17 Pratyusha Rajeshwari Singh Kandhamal, Odisha BJD
18 Shrirang Appa Barne Maval, Maharashtra SS
19 H.D. Devegowda Hassan, Karnataka JDS
20 Jayadev Galla Guntur, Andhra Pradesh TDP
21 Sher Singh Ghubaya Firozpur, Punjab SAD
Notes
  1. ^ Chairperson of the committee for the current year.
10 Members from the Rajya Sabha
Sr. No. Name State Legislature Party
1 G. V. L. Narasimha Rao Uttar Pradesh BJP
2 Ashok Bajpai Uttar Pradesh
3 Devender Paul Vats Haryana
4 Madhusudan Mistry Gujarat INC
5 Ambika Soni Punjab
6 Joginipally Santosh Kumar Telangana TDP
7 Sanjay Raut Maharashtra SS
8 K. R. Arjunan Tamil Nadu AIDMK
9 Ram Nath Thakur Bihar JD(U)
10 Soumya R. Patnaik Odisha BJD

Comments in recent years

Rafale Fighter MMRCFA acquisition case (2013)

Further information: 2013 Indian helicopter bribery scandal and Indian MRCA competition

The $8.9 billion deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft from France was delayed due to the Agusta Westland bribery scandal and a cautious stance taken by the government of India. The committee commented on the delay saying - "The committee are unhappy to note that although a considerable time has elapsed, negotiations with France on Rafale (fighter aircraft) could not be taken to a logical end".[4]

“The committee takes serious view of the fact that our squadron strength is already short of what has been authorized by the Government and moreover, insufficiency in number of available pilots in the Air Force further deteriorates our operational capabilities,” said the parliament panel headed by Major General (retd.) B.C Khanduri.[citation needed]

Surgical Strikes(2016)

Further information: 2016 Indian Line of Control strike

After initial reluctance, the army briefed members of the SCOD during October 2016. One of the members said - “A brief statement was made by the army on the sensitive issue. But no questions were taken”. However, this statement was countered by the statement issued by minority members MP Ambika Soni and MP Madhusudhan Mistry - “The decision not to brief the committee over surgical strikes under the garb of secrecy only amounts to ‘lack of confidence’ in the Members of Parliament, who are in the committee and who are bound by the oath of secrecy. This position is absolutely unacceptable to us".[5]

Operational Preparedness (2015-2018)

During April of 2015, SCOD highlighted for the first time the disturbing state of defence.[6][7] In its seventh and eighth report on Demands of Grants, the SCOD said that while the sanctioned strength was 42, Indian Air Force at present has 35 active squadrons - "With regard to this, representatives of air force deposed before the committee that a drawdown has already begun and, by 2022, air force will have around just 25 squadrons, thereby losing even the slight edge over rival neighbouring nation" , the panel additionally said in the same report, that IAF would need 45 squadrons to counter "two front collusive threat".[8]

During March 2018 deposition of Vice Chief of Army Staff Sarath Chand, it was stated that - "Funds allocated is insufficient and the army is finding it difficult to even stock arms, ammunition, spares for 10 day intensive war. All the three services are expected to be prepared for at least 10 days of intense battle."[9][10] Following this testimony, the defence minister, Ms. Nirmala Sitharam said that Ministry of Defence (MOD) has been trying to shore up all the shortages however the forces would have to prioritize and rationalize.[11] However the SCOD recommended and the government via the Ministry of Defence (MOD) followed up eventually by increasing the financial powers of all three vice chiefs up to 500 crore (equivalent to 538 crore or US$75 million in 2019) [12]

Chairpersons

Chairpersons of the committee (1993-till date)

Sr. No. Name Term of office Terms Political party

(Alliance)

1 Buta Singh 1993-95 2 INC
2 No Public records found 1995-98 3
3 Kamal Chaudhary 1998-99 1 INC
4 Laxminarayan Pandey 1999-2002 3 BJP
5 Madan Lal Khurana 2002-04 2
6 Balasaheb Vikhe Patil 2004-08 4 INC
7 Satpal Maharaj 2008-11 4
8 Raj Babbar 2012-14 2
9 Maj Gen. BC Khanduri (Retd.) 2014-17 3 BJP
10 Kalraj Mishra 2017-19 2
11 Jual Oram 2019 - Present 1

Reports published

As part of its oversight process the committee has published quite a number of reports over the course of its existence. The committee has published a total of 87 reports from 1993 to 2010. Out of these, 18 are reports on Demands for Grants (DFGs), 25 reports on subjects taken up by the committee, 5 reports on bills referred to the committee and 36 are reports on action taken by the government on corresponding reports of the committee.

Lok Sabha Tenure Demands for Grants(DFGs) Subjects Bills ATRs Total Reports Presented
10th Lok Sabha 1991–96 3 2 - 3 8
11th Lok Sabha 1996–97 2 - 2 2 6
12th Lok Sabha 1998–99 2 4 - 2 8
13th Lok Sabha 1999–04 4 4 1 12 21
14th Lok Sabha 2004–09 5 14 2 15 36
15th Lok Sabha 2009–14 2 1 - 2 5
16th Lok Sabha 2014– continuing

See also

References

  1. ^ "Simply put: Parliament and its many panels". The Indian Express. 29 December 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Kalraj Mishra appointed chairman of House panel on defence". The Indian Express. 19 September 2018. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  3. ^ "Kalraj Mishra, who quit Narendra Modi Cabinet in 2017, is now head of parliamentary standing committee on defence - Firstpost". www.firstpost.com. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  4. ^ Raghuvanshi, Vivek (8 August 2017). "AgustaWestland Scandal Casts Shadow on Rafale Deal". Defense News. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  5. ^ "Indian Army briefs Parliamentary panel on surgical strikes". The Indian Express. 14 October 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  6. ^ "Why Committee of Parliament is upset with the state of Defence". The Indian Express. 21 August 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Parliamentary panel to examine operational preparedness of armed forces". The Economic Times. 11 July 2018. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  8. ^ Gady, Franz-Stefan. "The Indian Air Force's Big Problem: Not Enough Pilots!". The Diplomat. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Indian defence forces out of funds, won't sustain 10-day war, says Parliament Standing Committee". India Today. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  10. ^ Gurung, Shaurya Karanbir (14 March 2018). "Shortage of funds a big worry, says Army to Parliamentary Panel". The Economic Times. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  11. ^ "Armed forces not reeling under shortage of funds: Nirmala Sitharaman". The Economic Times. 5 June 2018. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  12. ^ "Defence Min increases financial powers of all three vice chiefs". dna. 9 November 2018. Retrieved 11 November 2018.