Headline: Cong. demands Joint Parliamentary Committee( JPC) probe into FB ‘interference’ in polls (TH, pg 9)
Congress demanded a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) following
an investigation published by the Wall Street Journal which reported that officials of Facebook India provided “favorable treatment.
BJP on election¬ related issues”. The opposition claims that Facebook violated its own guidelines on hate speech by refusing to take down objectionable comments by BJP leaders.
Earlier demand for JPC probe into Rafale deal was also raised by The Opposition
What is a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC)?
•The JPC, an ad-hoc body, is set up for a given period of time and is aimed at addressing a specific issue.
•In order to set up a JPC, a motion is passed in one House and supported by the other House.
•The committee’s members are decided by Parliament. The number of members can vary.
•There are twice as many Lok Sabha members as the Rajya Sabha.
•A JPC is authorized to collect evidence in oral or written form or demand documents in connection with the matter.
•The proceedings and findings of the committee are confidential, except in matters of public interest.
•The government can take the decision to withhold a document if it is considered prejudicial to the safety or interest of the State.
•The Speaker has the final word in case of a dispute over calling for evidence.
•The committee can invite interested parties for inquiry and summon people to appear before it.
•Committee gets dissolved following the submission of its report to Parliament.
•A Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) is set up to examine a particular bill presented before the Parliament,
or for the purpose of investigating cases of financial irregularities in any government activity.
How many Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPCs) have we had so far?
•Although a number of joint committees have been formed since Independence, seven major JPCs have been formed to investigate significant issues that have caused controversy.
(1)The Joint Committee on Bofors Contracts.
(2)Joint Committee to enquire into irregularities in securities and banking transactions
(3) Joint Parliamentary Committee on the stock-market scam.
(4)Joint Committee on pesticide residues in and safety standards for soft drinks.
(5)2G spectrum scam in 2011
(6)VVIP Chopper Scam in 2013.
(7)The last time a committee was set up in 2015 for the purpose of examination of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment) Bill.
How effective have JPCs been? Is the government bound by their recommendations?
•Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) recommendations have persuasive value but the committee cannot force the government to take any action on the basis of its report.
•The government may decide to launch fresh investigations on the basis of a JPC report.
•However, the discretion to do so rests entirely with the government.
•Our government is required to report on the follow-up action taken on the basis of the recommendations of the joint Parliamentary Committee and other committees.
•Committees then submit ‘Action Taken Reports’ in Parliament on the basis of the government’s reply.
•These reports can be discussed in Parliament and the government can be questioned on the basis of the same.
•The JPC can examine ministry officials to testify before the committee.
•A Joint Parliamentary Committee report can recommend the prosecution of a particular person or the cancellation of certain licenses.
However, the government can disagree with the JPC’s findings and refuse to take such action.
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