The Parliament shall by resolution within six weeks after its first sitting consequent to an election, appoint such number of Sectoral Oversight Committees as may be determined by the Committee of Selection:
However, the number of Sectoral Oversight Committees at any given time shall not exceed twenty.
The Sectoral Oversight Committees shall function for the duration of Parliament and conduct its inquiries notwithstanding any adjournment or prorogation of Parliament.
The Committee of Selection shall determine the subjects and functions to be allocated to each Sectoral Oversight Committee.
The Sectoral Oversight Committees shall have the power to examine any Bill, any subsidiary legislation including Regulation, Resolution, Treaty, Report or any other matter relating to subjects and functions within their jurisdiction.
The Parliament, any Committee or a Minister may refer any matter to a Sectoral Oversight Committee having jurisdiction over the subject or function for its consideration and report.
General Oversight Responsibilities
The Sectoral Oversight Committees shall have general oversight responsibilities in order to assist Parliament in -
(a) its analysis, appraisal and evaluation of the application, administration, execution and effectiveness of legislation passed by Parliament and conditions and circumstances that may indicate the necessity or desirability of enacting any new or additional legislation; and
(b) its formulation, consideration and enactment or changes in any law and of such additional legislation as may be necessary or appropriate:
Provided that, any recommendation or proposal under this Standing Order which envisages additional budgetary resources shall be reviewed concurrently with the Committee on Public Finance.
Functions, duties and responsibilities
(1) In order to determine whether any law, project or programme relating to subjects within the jurisdiction of a Sectoral Oversight Committee are being implemented effectively and carried out in accordance with the intent of Parliament and whether they should be continued, curtailed, or eliminated, each Sectoral Oversight Committee shall review and study on a continuing basis.
(2) The Sectoral Oversight Committees shall do all or any one or more of the following: —
(a) review and study the application, administration, execution, and effectiveness of legislative projects and programmes addressing subjects within its jurisdiction;
(b) review and study the organization and operation of Departments and Institutions having responsibilities for the administration and execution of legislative projects and programmes addressing subjects within its jurisdiction;
(c) review any conditions or circumstances that may indicate the necessity or desirability of enacting any new or additional legislation addressing subjects within its jurisdiction (whether or not a Bill or resolution has been introduced with respect thereto);
(d) review any subsidiary legislation including regulations of government ministries to ensure that they are consistent with the legislative intent for delegated responsibilities;
(e) examine the accounts of public corporations or institutions funded wholly or in part by Government;
(f) examine the suitability of any person who has been either appointed to any post or nominated to hold office in any post determined by the Cabinet of Ministers within the jurisdiction of that Sectoral Oversight Committee and to make recommendations in regard to such persons to the appropriate Ministry; and
(g) engage in future research and forecasting on subjects within its jurisdiction.
The Sectoral Oversight Committees may conduct at any time such investigations and studies as it considers necessary or appropriate in the exercise of its responsibilities.
Each Sectoral Oversight Committee shall, not later than six weeks after its appointment, adopt its oversight plan for that Session of Parliament. Such plan shall be submitted to the Committee on Parliamentary Business for its observations. In developing its plan each Sectoral Oversight Committee shall —
(a) consult the other Committees that have jurisdiction over the same or related legislative projects, programmes, or agencies within its jurisdiction with the objective of ensuring maximum coordination and cooperation among Committees when conducting reviews of such legislative projects, programmes, or agencies and include in its plan an explanation of steps that have been or will be taken to ensure such coordination and cooperation;
(b) review specific problems with Government rules, regulations and statutes which need further consideration or that impose severe financial burdens on individuals;
(c) give priority consideration to matters including in its plan the review of those legislative projects, programmes, or agencies operating under permanent budget authority or permanent statutory authority; and
(d) ensure that all significant legislative projects, programmes, or agencies within its jurisdiction are subject to periodic review.
The Speaker shall on receipt of the oversight plans from Sectoral Oversight Committees report to Parliament.
References of Bills and Subsidiary Legislation or any other matter to a Committee
The Parliament shall refer each Bill, subsidiary legislation including regulation, resolution or other matter that relates to a subject within the purview of any Sectoral Oversight Committee, in accordance with the provisions of this Standing Order.
The Parliament shall refer any matter to any Sectoral Oversight Committee in such manner as to ensure to the maximum extent feasible that each Sectoral Oversight Committee that has jurisdiction over the subject matter of a provision thereof may consider such provision and report to Parliament thereon.
In carrying out the above provisions with respect to the referral of a matter, the Speaker -
(a) shall designate a Committee exercising primary jurisdiction;
(b) may refer the matter to one or more additional Committees for consideration and its opinion initially or after the matter has been reported by the Committee exercising primary jurisdiction;
(c) may subject a referral to appropriate time limitations; and
(d) may make such other provisions as may be considered appropriate.
When an opinion is sought from an additional Committee other than the Committee that exercises the primary jurisdiction as above, the opinion shall be dealt solely with those matters that fall under the areas of responsibility of the Committee giving that opinion.
When the Speaker refers any matter to an additional Committee, he may fix a time period within which such additional Committee shall forward its opinion.
Report of a Sectoral Oversight Committee
Each Sectoral Oversight Committee when acting in the exercise of its jurisdiction shall submit to the Speaker, a report in respect of each item considered by such Committee. The Speaker shall cause such report to be tabled before Parliament, and —
(a) any report by a Sectoral Oversight Committee on any Bill shall comprise draft amendments if any to the proposal accompanied, if appropriate with brief justifications; and
(b) any such amendment to a Bill shall be moved by the Chair of the Committee or any other Member designated by the Committee during the Committee stage of such Bill under Standing Order 61 as an amendment moved by the Chair of the Committee or such other Member.
Annual Calendar and meetings
Each Sectoral Oversight Committee shall prepare an annual calendar of its meetings.
Each Sectoral Oversight Committee shall meet not less than two days of every month. The meetings of each Sectoral Oversight Committee shall be summoned in accordance with the calendar or timetable or as may be decided by the Chair. Additional meetings of any Sectoral Oversight Committee may be summoned either by the Chair or at the request of not less than half the members of the Committee.
Eligibility to serve as a member of a SOC
All Members of Parliament other than the following are eligible to serve as members of any Sectoral Oversight Committee: —
(a) The Speaker;
(b) The Deputy Speaker;
(c) The Deputy Chairperson of Committees;
(d) The Prime Minister;
(e) The Leader of the House of Parliament;
(f) The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament; and
(g) The Ministers of Cabinet appointed under Article 43(2) of the Constitution.
Every eligible Member may serve as a Member of not more than three Sectoral Oversight Committees at any given time. Deputy Ministers and Ministers who are not Ministers of Cabinet appointed under Article 43(2) of the Constitution, shall not be eligible to serve in any Sectoral Oversight Committee whose jurisdiction and related functions are the same as any subject, function, Department or Institution of the Minister of the Cabinet under whose purview such Deputy Minister or Minister functions:
Provided that the Committee may summon the Minister, the Minister who is not a member of the Cabinet of Ministers or the Deputy Minister to assist the Committee when a Bill is being discussed in the Committee.
The Committee of Selection shall in nominating Members to Sectoral Oversight Committees have due regard to numerical strengths of political parties and independent groups represented in Parliament in accordance with the nominations made by the leaders of such political parties and independent groups.
Removal of a Member
(a) The Leader of any political party or independent group represented in Parliament may in writing request the Committee of Selection to remove any such Member nominated under paragraph (21) from such Committee. The Committee of Selection shall on receipt of such request discharge any such member from such Committee and inform Parliament.
(b) Any Member of Parliament who is not a Member of a particular Sectoral Oversight Committee may be permitted to observe the Committee proceedings by the Chair of any such Committee.
Election of a Chairperson
Each Sectoral Oversight Committee shall at its first meeting and thereafter at the first meeting after the Chair becomes vacant, elect a Chair from among the members of the Sectoral Oversight Committee.
Vacation of membership
(24) Any member who absents from three consecutive meetings of any Sectoral Oversight Committee without obtaining leave of such Committee shall be deemed to have vacated membership of such Committee.
Each Sectoral Oversight Committee may where it considers necessary appoint Sub-Committees of its own members to examine and report to such Committee such matters as the Committee may deem necessary.
Restriction on Parliament to consider a matter referred to a SOC
Any matter referred to a Sectoral Oversight Committee may not be taken up for consideration by Parliament until six weeks has lapsed from the date of the reference unless the Parliament has directed otherwise. The Parliament may by resolution extend such period.
Evidence and witnesses
Every Sectoral Oversight Committee may in regard to any Bill or any other matter of public importance call for evidence from any affected or interested party.
Every Sectoral Oversight Committee is empowered to summon persons and call for papers and records and shall submit to Parliament, Reports containing their opinions and observations together with the minutes of evidence taken before them.
Any reservation by a member of a Sectoral Oversight Committee may be appended to any report of such Committee.
SOC recommending enactment of legislation
Where a Sectoral Oversight Committee recommends the enactment of legislation or submit a non-legislative report, the Cabinet of Ministers shall submit its opinion to Parliament within six weeks of such report being tabled in Parliament.
[Refer Standing Order No.111]