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Public Account Committee, History, Member, Chairman, Function & Significance

Public Accounts Committee

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was established as a committee of Parliamentarians. Its goal is to examine the finances of the Indian government. One of India’s earliest parliamentary committees is PAC Committee. It was originally codified as the Montford Reforms in the Government of India Act, 1919. This group is also referred to as the government spending watchdog.

The Public Accounts Committee is an important part of Indian Polity which an important subject in UPSC Syllabus. Students can also go for UPSC Mock Test to get more accuracy in their preparations.

Public Accounts Committee History

Following the Montague-Chelmsford Reforms, the Public Accounts Committee was established in 1921. Previously, the Executive Council’s Finance Member served as the Committee’s chairman.

The Committee on Public Accounts underwent a significant transformation after the Indian Constitution entered into force on January 26, 1950. The Committee then became a Parliamentary Committee that reported to the Lok Sabha Speaker and had an unofficial Chairman chosen by the Speaker from among the Lok Sabha Members elected to the Committee.

According to Rule 309(i) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha, the Minister of Finance no longer serves on the Public Accounts Committee.

Public Accounts Committee Members

There are now 22 people on the Public Accounts Committee. 15 of these are Lok Sabha members, and the remaining 7 are Rajya Sabha members. The parliament’s members elect the Public Accounts Committee’s members each year. To ensure equal participation and representation of all parties in the committee, the election of the PAC members is based on the principle of proportional representation using a single transferable vote.

The members of this committee are in office for a year at a time. The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee is chosen by the Speaker of Lok Sabha, and he or she must be a committee member. Prior to 1966–1967, the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee belonged to the ruling party; however, since 1967, the committee’s chairman has come from the opposition party.

Public Accounts Committee Conditions for Membership

The Committee was made up of 15 people before 1954–1955, when Lok Sabha elected them from among its members. However, beginning in 1954–1955, 7 Rajya Sabha members are also affiliated with the Committee. The Speaker used to nominate a senior member of the ruling party as Chairman of the Committee until 1966–1967.

However, the Speaker appointed a Lok Sabha member of the opposition for the first time in 1967 to serve as the Committee’s Chairman. This behavior is still present today. Members of the Committee may serve for no more than one year at a time. A Minister cannot be elected to the Committee, and if a member of the Committee who has already been elected becomes a Minister, he or she loses their membership in the Committee as of the date of that appointment. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha selects the Chairman of the Committee from among the members of the Committee.

Public Accounts Committee Function

The Public Accounts Committee’s responsibility is to examine the annual audit reports that the CAG sends to the President of India for presentation to Parliament. The committee analyses the report based on a number of criteria, including legal and formal considerations to identify any technical inconsistencies and economy, prudence, wisdom, and propriety to identify instances of waste, losses, extravagance, corruption, inefficiency, and unnecessary expenditures.

The committee examines whether the funds were actually used for the intended purpose. The committee assesses whether the expense description meets the standards set by the relevant authorities and ensures that the expenditures mentioned are entirely clear. The committee examines the financial statements of state organizations, business enterprises, and manufacturing endeavors.

The CAG’s audits of autonomous and semi-autonomous organizations are also subject to scrutiny by the Public Accounts Committee. Every audit report from the CAG that relates to a receipt or a shop or book account is examined by the committee. The committee’s other duty is to carefully review any funds paid out for services during that fiscal year.

Public Accounts Committee Significance

Parliamentary Committees are smaller, cross-party groups of MPs from both Houses that work all year long. These smaller groups of MPs examine and discuss a variety of issues, bills, and the budgets for all the ministries. As Committee meetings take place all year round, they help make up for the lack of time on the House floor.

Parliament makes decisions on complicated issues, so it is necessary to have technical knowledge to comprehend these issues more fully.  This is made possible by committees because they give members a venue to interact with subject matter experts and government representatives while they are still in school.

Public Accounts Committee Reforms needed

Given that audit review is also one of PAC’s primary responsibilities, the name PAC might be changed to Public Accounts and Audit Committee. People should be able to immediately interact with it and provide input. Their recommendations will be more useful and effective as they contact with more people. It may be necessary for the committee to look at the question of balancing these two goals for more extensive discussion because PAC must evaluate the success of resource use in terms of socioeconomic consequences.

A Committee of PAC Chairpersons ought to exist so that the operation of the PACs can be thoroughly discussed. State legislatures and parliamentary PACs ought to use the same platform. Better coordination, increased transparency, and increased executive accountability will all result from this. The Presiding Officers could discuss putting the committee’s recommendations into practice to make the PACs more accountable, transparent, and helpful to the general public.

Public Accounts Committee UPSC

The Polity and Governance section has included the Public Accounts Committee. Regarding the UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains exams, the subject is also crucial. The All India Conference of Chairpersons of Parliamentary PACs and State/UT Legislatures proposed that the PAC be given the authority to look into Public-Private Partnership projects and that it be consulted on the choice of the CAG.

The report recommended, among other things, that technology concerns be handled with the help of professionals. The primary focus of PAC should be on policy administration rather than policy itself in order to avoid political disputes. Students can read all the details related to UPSC by visiting the official website of StudyIQ UPSC Online Coaching.

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Public Accounts Committee FAQs

What is the public account committee?

The Public Accounts Committee is a committee of selected members of parliament, constituted by the Parliament of India, for the purpose of auditing the revenue and the expenditure of the Government of India.

How many members are there in the Public Accounts Committee?

The financial committee has 22 members. All the members are taken from the Indian Parliament.

What are the duties of PAC?

A public accounts committee (PAC) is a committee within a legislature whose role is to study public audits, invite ministers, permanent secretaries or other ministry officials to the committee for questioning, and report on their findings subsequent to a government budget audit.

When was the First PAC Constituted in India?

The first-ever Public Accounts Committee was constituted in India in the year 1921, under the provisions of the Government of India Act 1919.

Who is the Chairman of the Public Account Committee?

Chairman of PAC is Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

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