What are the various mechanisms for exercising parliamentary control over the Union executive?

Q. What are the various mechanisms for exercising parliamentary control over the Union executive?


The Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary form of government, both at the Centre and in the states. Articles 74 and 75 deal with the parliamentary system at the Centre and Articles 163 and 164 in the states. A parliamentary form of government is one in which the Executive is responsible to the Parliament for its policies and acts. By its very nature, the parliamentary system establishes a responsible government. The ministers are responsible to the Parliament for all their acts of omission and commission.

  1. The Parliament exercises control over the Executive through question-hour, zero hour, half-an-hour discussion, short duration discussion, calling attention motion, adjournment motion, no- confidence motion, censure motion and other discussions.
  2. The ministers are collectively responsible to the Parliament in general and to the Lok Sabha in particular. The council of ministers can be removed from office by the Lok Sabha by passing a no-confidence motion. The Lok Sabha can also express lack of confidence in the government in the following ways:
    • By not passing a motion of thanks on the President’s inaugural address.
    • By rejecting a money bill.
    • By passing a censure motion or an adjournment motion.
    • By defeating the government on a vital issue.
    • By passing a cut motion.
  3. It also supervises the activities of the Executive with the help of its committees like committee on government assurances, committee on subordinate legislation, committee on petitions, etc. Therefore, the parliamentary control over the Executive in financial matters operates in two stages:
  • budgetary control, that is, control before the appropriation of grants through the enactment of the budget; and
  • post-budgetary control, that is, control after the appropriation of grants through the three financial committees.

4. No tax can be levied or collected and no expenditure can be incurred by the Executive except under the authority and with the approval of Parliament.

5. It approves all the three types of emergencies (national, state and financial) proclaimed by the President.

6. All the ordinances issued by the president (during the recess of the Parliament) must be approved by the Parliament within six weeks after its reassembly. An ordinance becomes inoperative if it is not approved by the parliament within that period.

7. The Parliament makes laws in a skeleton form and authorises the Executive to make detailed rules and regulations within the framework of the parent law. This is known as delegated legislation or executive legislation or subordinate legislation. Such rules and regulations are placed before the Parliament for its examination.

Therefore, “the first function of Parliament can be said to be to select the Executive which is to form the government, support and sustain it in power so long as it enjoys its confidence, and to expel it when it ceases to do so, and leave it to the people to decide at the next general election.”

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