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What is Public Accounts Committee and Joint Parliamentary Committee?

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Bengaluru, Dec 15: After the Supreme Court dismissed petitions demanding probe into pricing of Rafale jet deal, opposition parties are started demanding Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the matter.

What is Public Accounts Committee and Joint Parliamentary Committee?

The government in its submission to the apex court said that the CAG report was presented in the house and in Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the committee has probed it. However, Public Accounts Committee, Chairman, Mallikarjun Kharge denied that government submitted report to the PAC.

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What is the difference between PAC and JPC?

Functions of Public Accounts Committee:

The functions of the Committee, as enshrined in Rule 308(1) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, include examination of accounts showing the appropriation of sums granted by Parliament for the expenditure of the Government of India, the annual finance accounts of the Government and such other accounts laid before the House as the Committee may think fit. In scrutinizing the Appropriation Accounts of the Government of India and the Report of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India thereon, the Committee has to satisfy:

(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 has been made in accordance with the provisions made in this behalf under rules framed by competent authority. It shall also be the duty of the Committee -

(a) to examine the statement of accounts showing the income and expenditure of state 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 provisions 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; and

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(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 receipts or to examine the accounts of stores and stocks.

If any money has been spent on any service during a financial year in excess of the amount granted by the House for that purpose the Committee shall examine with reference to the facts of each case the circumstances leading to such an excess and make such recommendation as it may deem fit.

Joint Parliamentary Committee: Its is an ad-hoc body set up for a specific object and duration. Joint committees are set up by a motion passed in one house of Parliament and agreed to by the other. The details regarding membership and subjects are also decided by Parliament.

A JPC can obtain evidence of experts, public bodies, associations, individuals or interested parties suo motu or on requests made by them. If a witness fails to appear before a JPC in response to summons, his conduct constitutes a contempt of the House. The JPC can take oral and written evidence or call for documents in connection with a matter under its consideration. The proceedings of parliamentary committees are confidential, but in the case of the joint committee which went into "Irregularities in Securities and Banking Transactions", the committee decided that considering the widespread public interest in the matter, the chairman should brief the press about deliberations of the committees.

For example, the fifth JPC constituted to probe 2G case. It was headed by P.C. Chacko. It had 30 members. 15 opposition members belonging to BJP, JD (U), CPI, CPM, Trinamool Congress, BJD, DMK and the AIADMK in the 30-member panel accused P.C. Chacko of being "partisan" and demanded his removal (They submitted a memorandum to the Lok Sabha Speaker expressing their "no-confidence") as they criticised the draft report for giving clean chit to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram. So PC Chacko agreed to amend the JPC draft report.

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