In this article, You will read Cabinet Committees – for UPSC Notes (Polity).

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 vary 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. Sometimes 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.

The following four are the more important cabinet committees:

  • The Political Affairs Committee 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”.

Some important quotes:

The various comments made by the eminent political scientists and constitutional experts on the role of cabinet in Britain holds good in the Indian context also. These are mentioned below.
Ramsay Muir The Cabinet is the steering wheel of the ship of the state.”
Lowell The Cabinet is the keystone of the political arch”.
Sir John Marriott The Cabinet is the pivot around which the whole political machinery revolves”.
Gladstone The Cabinet is the solar orb around which the other bodies revolve”.
Barker The Cabinet is the magnet of policy”.
Bagehot The Cabinet is a hyphen that joins, the buckle that binds the executive and legislative departments together”.

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