Rule 308-A of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in State Legislature says that the reports of various House Committees placed on the table in either House of Legislature have to be implemented by the Departments concerned. Action Taken Report (ATR) has to be sent in once action is taken on these reports. Constituting House Committees is a recognized practice in a democratic dispensation. By and large, House Committees with specific agenda of reporting on the performance of a particular department on particular or general administrative matters is a method of providing good governance. Reports of these House Committees carry great weight and are usually considered very reliable and objective.
The issue at hand is that Secretaries and Commissioners of various departments regarding whom reports of the House Committees have come in seldom take the required action on their level to implement the suggested recommendations. Why they are reluctant to implement the suggestions of bring about reforms in the existing practices is something inexplicable. If the administrative organs find that some of the recommendations made by the House Committee cannot be implemented on technical, administrative and other grounds they can bring it to the notice of the government or the Legislative Assembly in normal course of things so that angularities if any in the reports can be ironed out. But what they actually do is just to remain silent and make no commitment. This attitude is tantamount to undermining the authority and status of the legislature.
In a sound and smooth democratic dispensation there has to be full coordination among the three organs of the State namely legislature, executive and the judiciary. If cohesion among them is lacking, it has adverse impact on good governance. It cannot be called good and smooth administration. Obviously, representatives will take all aspects of the functionality of a department into consideration which means that while it will have appreciation for the positive and healthy aspects of department’s functionality, it will also highlight certain deficiencies which it may suggest should be removed and improvement brought in the overall delivery of the department under consideration. This is the precise objective of the House Committees. It is the recognized practice and in simpler words is fulfilment of the requirements of democratic dispensation. It is totally unacceptable that Secretaries and Commissioners of departments turn Nelson’s eye to these reports as if the legislature carries no weight. Consequently, in May last, GAD had issued a circular to all departments impressing upon them the imperative of implementing the recommendations of the House Committees and submitting ATRs. Despite lapse of over three months since the issuance of the circular there is no satisfactory improvement as far as implementation of recommendations/ submission of Action Taken Reports is concerned. Although this is the case with a majority of departments, yet situation in respect of recommendations/reports of Public Undertakings Committee and Public Accounts Committee is worst in comparison to other House Committees. It is pertinent to mention here that when the Legislators raise issues of immense public importance on the floor of the Legislature and seek response from the Government, the Ministers extend assurances of resolving the issues. But, thereafter these assurances are forgotten. This is not the first time that DE is reflecting on the subject. We have taken it up several times and repeatedly suggested the Government not to treat the Legislative Assembly non-seriously. Not implementing the recommendations of various House Committees is tantamount to working against the development of the State or at least obstructing the development which is not acceptable in any case. However, it needs to be said that few departments have followed the instructions and submitted ATRs also and that should prompt other departments also to follow suit.