Indian Polity Part 2 – The external control over administration


  • Administrative accountability is enforced by means of various controls. In other words, it involves devising a control mechanism to keep the administrative under a close watch and in check.
  • Thus, the public servants are made accountable to different agencies which exercise control over them.
  • The purpose of control is to ensure that the public servants exercise their powers and discretion in accordance with laws, formal rules and established procedures and conventions.

The external control over administration is exercised by the following four agencies:

  • Legislature
  • Executive
  • Judiciary
  • Citizen

Legislative control

  • In any representative democratic government, whether Parliamentary or Presidential, the legislature is the supreme organs of the government as it consists of the representatives of the people.

  • It reflects the will of the people and acts as a custodian of the representative people.
  • Hence, it exercises control over administration to hold it accountable and responsible.
  • The parliamentary system of government prevalent n India is based on the principle of collective responsibility.
  • It means that the ministers are responsible to the parliament for their policies and actions.
  • Thus, the legislative control over administration under such a system is only indirect, that is through ministers.

 The various techniques/methods/tools of parliamentary control are as follows: 


  • It is the primary function of the Parliament; the parliament lays down the policies of the government by making (enacting) or changing (amending) or cancelling (repealing)  the laws.
  • Parliamentary laws determine and condition the organisation and condition of the organisation, structure, powers, functions and procedures of the administration.

Question Hour (Interpellations)

  • The first hour of every parliamentary sitting is slotted for this. During this time, the MPs ask questions and the ministers usually give answers.
  • The questions are of three kinds, viz. Starred, unstarred and short notice.
  • A starred question is one which is distinguished by an asterisk. It requires an oral answer hence supplementary questions can follow.
  • An unstarred question, on the other hand, is one which is not distinguished by an asterisk. It requires a written answer and hence, supplementary questions cannot follow.
  • A short notice question is one which is asked by giving a notice of fewer than ten days. It is answered orally.
  • Questions (or interpellation) are effective tools of legislative control over administration and keeps the civil service alert and on its toes.

Zero Hour – 

  • Unlike the question Hour, the zero hours is not mentioned in the rules of procedure. Thus, it is an informal device available to the members of the Parliament to raise matters without any prior notice.
  • The zero hour starts immediately after the question hour and lasts until the agenda for the day (I a .e. regular business of the house) is taken up.

Half – an – Hour Discussion –

  • It is meant for raising a discussion as the time allotted for such discussion on a matter of sufficient public importance which has been subjected to a lot of debate and the answer to which needs elucidation on a matter of fact.

Short duration discussion – 

  • it is also known two-hour discussion as the time allotted for such a discussion should not exceed two hours.
  • The members of the parliament can raise such discussion on a matter of urgent public importance.

Calling Attention 

  • It is a notice introduced in the Parliament by a member to call the attention of a minister to a matter of urgent public importance and to seek an authoritative statement from him on that matter.

Adjournment Motion – 

  • It is introduced in the Parliament to draw the attention of the house to a matter of urgent public importance.
  • This motion needs the support of 50 members to be admitted. As it interrupts the normal business of the House. It is regarded as an extraordinary device.

No Confidence Motion – 

  • Article 75 of the Constitution states that the Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Loksabha.
  • It means that the ministry stays in office so long as it enjoys the confidence of the majority of the members of the Loksabha.
  • In other words, the Loksabha can remove the ministry from office by passing the No Confidence Motion. The motion needs the support of 50 members to be admitted.

Budgetary System – 

  • The parliament controls the revenues and expenditures of the government through the enactment of the budget.
  • It is the ultimate authority to sanction the raising and spending of government funds. It can criticise the policies and actions of the government and point out the lapse and failures of administration during the process of enactment of the budget.

Audit System –

  • The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), on behalf of the Parliament, audit the accounts of government and submits n annual Audit Report about the financial transactions of the government.
  • The report of CAG highlights the improper illegal, unwise, uneconomical and irregular expenditure of the government.

Public Account Committee –

  • The committee was set up first in India in 1921 it consists of 22 members (15 from Loksabha and 7 from the Rajyasabha).
  • The members are elected by the Parliament every year from amongst its members according to the principle of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
  • The function of the committee is to examine the annual audits reports of the CAG which are laid before the parliament by the President.
  • In this function, the committee is assisted by the CAG.

Estimates Committee –

  • The first estimate committee in the post – independence era was constituted in 1950 on the recommendation of John Mthai the then finance Minister.
  • Originally, it had 25 members but in 1956, its membership as raised to 30. All the thirty members are from Loksabha only.
  • The function of the committee is to examine the estimates included in and suggest economies in public expenditure.

Committee on Public Undertakings –

  • This Committee was in 1964 on the recommendation of the Krishna Menon Committee.
  • Originally it had 15 members (10 from the Loksabha and 5 from the Rajyasabha). But in 1974, its membership was raised to 22 (15 from the Loksabha and 7 from the Rajyasabha).

The functions of Committee are:

  • To examine the reports and accounts of public undertakings
  • To examine the reports, if any, of the CAG on public undertakings.
  • To examine in the context of autonomy and efficiency of public undertakings, whether the affairs of the public undertakings are being managed in accordance with sound business principles and prudent commercial practices.
  • To exercise such other functions vested in the Committee on Public Accounts and the Committee on Estimates in relation to public undertakings as may be allotted to the committee by the speaker from time to time.

Departmental Standing Committees

  • The functions each of the standing committees are:
  • To consider the demands for grants of the concerned ministries/ departments and make a report on the same to the Houses.
  • The report shall not suggest anything of the nature of cut motions.
  • To examine bills pertaining to the concerned ministries/ departments and make report thereon.
  • To consider annual reports of ministries/departments and make reports thereon.
  • To consider national basic long-term policy documents presented to the Houses, and make reports thereon.

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