CHAPTER III 

 RAILWAYS, THE PUBLIC AND PARLIAMENT

301.  Parliamentary  control on Railways.—The control of Parliament  over railway finance and policy is exercised as follows :—

(a)  through periodical examination,  generally every five years,   of the  working of the Railways by the Railway Convention Committee to review inter alia the rate of dividend payable by the Railway undertaking to the general revenues.    (For details, please see Chapter VII) ;  

(b)  through the Estimates Committee which examines such of the estimates as it   may deem fit or are specifically referred to it by Parliament ;

(c)  (i) by means of interpellations, resolutions, and   discussions when the Budget is presented, and the railway demands are voted upon ;                                         

(ii) through the Members of Parliament serving on the National Railway Users Consultative Council ;

(iii) through the Public Accounts Committee which examines the accounts showing appropriation of sums granted by the Parliament for the expenditure of the Government of India, the annual finance accounts of the Government of India and such other accounts laid before the Parliament as the Committee may think fit ; and

(d)  (i) through the Committee on Subordinate Legislation which  scrutinises an reports to Parliament whether the powers to make regulations, rules, sub-rules, bye-laws, etc.,   conferred by the   Constitution or delegated by Parliament are being properly exercised within such delegation;

(ii) through the Committee on Government Assurances which scrutinises whether the assurances, promises, undertakings, etc,, given by Ministers from time-to-time, on the floor of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, have been implemented within the minimum time necessary for the purpose.

In addition, any Member of Parliament may address the Ministry of Railways (Railway Board) or a Railway Administration on any matter concerning railway working. Member may also ask questions in both the Houses of Parliament on issues connected with the Railways.

302.  The Committee System is an essential part of the System of Parliamentary   Control.    The object of referring a   matter   to a   Committee   by   the House itself is to   have   the   matter   better   dealt   with   by a smaller group of member, or in a body which is not fettered   by the technical   rules of debate  and  procedure. The method of working of the various  Committees   generally  is  based  on  the   Rules of Procedure  for the -Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha.  

303.  National Railway Users' Consultative Council.- (a) In order to give the general public adequate voice in the management of railways and to remain in close touch   with the public opinion, a Central Advisory Council was constituted in March, 1922.    In the Separation Convention adopted by the Legislative Assembly in September 1924,  the constitution of the Central Advisory Council was altered.    The  representation of interests through the Central Advisory Council for Railways was limited in that the   members were drawn only from the Central Legislature.    However,  as a result of the decision of the  Government of India in 1952, the practice of constituting Standing Committees of Parliament including the Central Advisory Council for Railways was abandoned. To secure better representation of Railway Users and afford more frequent opportunities for consultation between Railways and Railway Users on matters relating to the service provided by Railways, a National Railway Users' Consultative Council was formed in 1953. The members of the National Railway Users Consultative Council held office for a period not exceeding two years.

The Council consists of persons appointed to it by the Minister of Railways namely :—

(1)  Secretaries of each of the Ministries of—

(a)  Industry.

(b)  Commerce.                                                               '

(c) Tourism.

(2)  Ministry of Railways-Chairman and Members of Railway Board.

(3)  Fifteen Members of Parliament, ten from the Lok Sabha and five from the Rajya Sabha.

(4)  A representative each of the Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee not being  an  Official,  to !be elected by the representatives of the Zonal Railway Users' Consultative Committees.

(5)  One member each from the following AH India Associations:—.

(a)  Federated Chambers of Commerce.

(b)  Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry. 

(c) Indian Jute Mills Association.

(d)  Indian Sugar Mills Association.

(e)  All India Manufacturers' Association.                               

(f)  Cement Manufacturers' Association.

(g)  All India Travel Agents Association                                                   

and similar AH India Associations.   (Members will be taken by turn from these Associations).

(6)  One representative of the Agricultural Interests.

(7)  Two retired officers of the Railways (Members of the Board/General Managers). " (8) Eminent persons who take interest in Railway Problems (Minister's nominees).

304. The Council may ordinarily meet at least twice a year.   The Minister will preside at the meetings of the Council, and in his absence the Minister of State or Deputy Minister will act as chairman.

305.  The functions of the Council are to consider—

(1)  such matters relating to the services and facilities provided by   Railways as may  be  referred to  it for consideration by the Minister,

(2)  such matters being within the scope of the functions of the Zonal Committees as are  referred to it for consideration by such committees, and

(3)  such other matters relating to the services and facilities on Railways which an individual  member of the Council may, with the approval of the Chairman desire to be included in the Agenda.

Note;.-The Council  will be consultative in character.    Questions relating to staff, discipline and appointments will not be brought before the Council.

306.  The Public Accounts Committee.—{I) This is a Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts for the examination of accounts showing the appropriation of sums granted by the Parliament for the expenditure of the Government of India, the annual finance accounts of the Government of India and such other account laid before the Parliament as the Committee may think fit.

(2)  In scrutinising the Appropriation Accounts of the Government of India and the  report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General thereon, the Committee is required to satisfy itself—

(a)  that the moneys shown in the accounts as  having been disbursed were  legally available for and

applicable to the service or purpose to which they have been applied or charged,

(b)  that the expenditure conforms to the authority which governs it and

(c)  that every re-appropriation had been made in accordance with the provisions made in  this behalf under rules framed by competent authority.

(3)  It is also the duty of the Committee—                                 

(a)  to examine the statement of accounts showing the income and expenditure of stats corporations, trading and manufacturing schemes, concerns and projects together with the balance sheets and statements of , profit and loss accounts which the President may have required to  be prepared or are prepared  under the provision of the statutory rules regulating the financing of a particular corporation, trading or  manufacturing scheme or concern or project and the report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General thereon.

(b)  to examine the statement of accounts showing the income and expenditure of autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies, the audit of which may be conducted by the  Comptroller and   Auditor-General of India either under the directions of the President or by a statute of Parliament; provided that the Committee shall not exercise its functions in relation to such public undertakings as are allotted to the Committees on Public Undertakings either under the Rules of Procedure for the Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha or by the Speaker, and

(c)  to consider the report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General in cases where the President  may have required him to conduct an audit of any receipt or to examine the accounts of stores and stocks. 

(4)  If any money has been spent on any service during a financial year in excess of the amount granted by the Parliament  for that purpose, the Committee will examine with reference to the facts of each case the circumstances loading to such an excess and make such recommendations as it may deem fit.

(5)  (i) The Committee consists of not more than 22 members to be elected by both the Houses of Parliament every year from amongst their members according to the principle of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote, provided that a Minister shall not be elected as member of the Committee and that if a member, after his election to the Committee, is appointed as Minister he shall cease to be a member of the Committee from the date of such appointment.  

(ii) The term of office of members of the Committee shall not exceed one year.

(iii) The Chairman of the Committee shall be appointed by the Speaker from amongst the members of the Committee provided that, if the Deputy Speaker is a member of the Committee, he shall be appointed Chairman of the Committee.

307.  As a Parliamentary Committee the Public Accounts Committee has its own   Chairman,  and its own programme and procedure.   The Committee takes up examination of the   Audit Report   and   Appropriation Accounts after they have been duly placed before Parliament with the approval of the president.   Apart from taking oral evidence from Government representatives, the Committee calls for additional information in the form of Memoranda or notes on which it requires further elucidation.   The Committee's findings are recorded in a report presented to Parliament.   Even though the Committee is not an executive body and its opinions and findings are only recommendatory, Government examines each of its recommendations with a view to implementing them and report back to the Committee the action taken when the following year's accounts come up for examination. In the exceptional cases in which Government may  not be   in   a  position  to  implement a recommendation, they place their views before the Committee to  enable it to present  a further  report to Parliament.

308.  The Estimates Committee.—(i) There is a Parliamentary Committee   on Estimates for   examination of such of the estimates as may seem fit to the Committee or are specially referred   to it by the  Parliament to the Speaker.   The functions of the Committee are—  

(a)  to report what economies,   improvements   in   organisation,   efficiency or   administrative reform, consistent with the policy underlying the estimates may be effected ;

(b)  to suggest alternative policies, in order to bring about efficiency and economy in administration ;

(c)  to examine whether the money is well laid out within the limits of the policy implied in the estimates; and

(d)  to suggest the form in which the estimates shall be presented to Parliament.

(ii) The Committee consists of not more than thirty members to be elected by the Lok Sabha every year from amongst its members according to the principle of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. Provided that a Minister shall not be elected as member of the Committee and that if a member, after his election to the Committee, is appointed as Minister, he shall cease to be a member of the Committee from the date of such appointment.

(iii) The terms of office of members of the Committee shall not exceed one year.

(iv) The Committee may continue the examination of the estimates from time-to-time throughout the financial year and report to the House as its examination proceeds. It shall not be incumbent of the Committee to examine the entire estimates of any one year. The demands for grants may be finally voted notwithstanding the fact that the Committee has made no report.

309.  Parliamentary Financial Control—'Annual Budget.—Under Article   112   of the   Constitution, a statement of the estimated annual receipts and expenditure whether on Capital account or on Revenue account of the Railways,   commonly known as the ' Budget',  is laid before   both  the   Houses   of Parliament   by the Minister for Railways.   The proposed expenditure included in the Budget may be—

(i) Voted, or 

(ii) Charged.

The former class includes the items for which the provision of funds is subject to the vote of the Lok Sabha, while funds for the latter class are sanctioned by the President and are not to be submitted to the vote of Parliament. The Railway Budget is submitted in the form of " Demands for Grants ", the vote of Parliament, being necessary only for the " Votable " expenditure. The Parliament, of course, has the power to assent, or to refuse to assent, to any demand or to assent to any demand subject to a reduction of the amount specified therein.

310. Cut Motions.—From the date the budget is presented to Parliament, Members of the Lok Sabha may send in to the Lok Sabha Secretariat their proposals for cuts in the individual demands or for omission of individual demands.

311.  A motion may be moved in the Lok Sabha to reduce the amount of a Demand in any of the following Ways :—

(a) "that the amount of the Demand be reduced to Re. 1 ", as representing disapproval of the policy underlying the Demand.   Such a motion shall be known as a " Disapproval of Policy Cut ".

(b) "that the amount of the Demand be reduced by a specified amount" representing the economy that can be effected. Such specified amount may be either a lump sum reduction in the Demand or omission or reduction of an item in the Demands   The motion shall be known as an " Economy Cut ".

(c) " that the amount of the Demand b= reduced by Rs. 100 " in order to ventilate a specific grievance which is within the sphere of the responsibility of the Government of India. Such a motion shall be known as a "Token Cut" and the discussion thereon shall be confined to the particular grievance specified in the motion.

312.  Questions in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.—-Any Member of Parliament may ask a question for the purpose of obtaining information on a matter of public importance within the special cognizance of the Minister to whom it is addressed.    In matters which are or have been the subject of correspondence between the Government of India and the Government of a State, no question shall be asked except as to matters of fact, and the answer shall be confined to a statement of fact.

313.  Questions are of various kinds, viz.—

(a)  Questions with the usual minimum notice of 10 days.   These may be—(i) " starred" , i.e., questions for oral answers, or

(ii) " unstarred ". i.e., replies to which are laid on the Table of the House, and

(b)  " Short notice questions ".

Separate notices are required for starred and unstarred questions falling under (a) above specifying—

(1)  the official designation of the Minister to whom the question is addressed, and

(2)  the date on which the question is proposed to be placed on the list of questions for answer.

In regard to starred questions, any Member, when called by the Speaker/Chairman, may put a supplementary question for the purpose of further elucidating any matter of fact regarding which an answer has been given, provided that the Speaker/Chairman shall disallow any supplementary question if, in his opinion it infringes the rules regarding questions.

314.  A short notice question, relating to a matter of public importance, may be asked with  shorter notice than the usual minimum notice of 10 clear days and if the Speaker/Chairman is of opinion that the question is of an urgent character, he may direct that an enquiry may be made from the Minister concerned if he is in a position to reply and, if so, on what date.

315.  Discussion on urgent matters.—Discussion on a definite   matter of urgent public  importance may be sought by a Member through an Adjournment Motion or a Calling Attention Notice—

(a)  Adjournment motion.—A motion for adjournment of the business of the  Lok Sabha for the  purpose of discussing a definite matter of public importance may be made with the consent of the Speaker.   The procedure to be followed in regard to an adjournment motion is governed by the  relevant provisions contained in the Rules of Procedure for the Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.

(b)  Calling   Attention   Notice.—A Member may give notice calling the attention of the Minister to any matter  of urgent public importance, with the permission of the Speaker/Chairman  When such  notice is received by the Speaker/Chairman and if he finds the notice admissible under the rules, he may allow the matter to be raised in the House on the same day or on a subsequent day on the first available  opportunity,   as the Speaker/Chairman may decide.

316. References from Members of Parliament.—Letters are often addressed by Members of Parliament to the Ministers, Members of the Railway Board, Genera! Managers and Heads of Departments in connection with public or staff complaints, etc. The subject, matter of such references should be investigated fully and expeditiously, and reply should be issued in each case over the signature of the addressee personally. Further, in order that action is taken in line with the reply issued to a Member of Parliament at the level of the Minister or the Railway Board, a copy of the reply should be sent to the Railway Administration.