Rajya Sabha chairperson Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday appointed eight members of his personal staff to 20 committees that come under the ambit of the Upper House, The Hindu reported.
There has not been any precedence of the chairperson appointing his staff to the committees, according to the newspaper.
Four of the staff appointed to the committees are employed with the chairperson’s office and the rest are posted in the vice president’s secretariat.
India’s Parliament has two types of committees. Most of them are “standing” as they are usually reconstituted on an annual basis and some are “select” committees formed for a specific purpose, for example, to scrutinise a particular Bill.
Each Standing Committee comprises an additional secretary or a joint secretary-level official, who helps in functioning of the panel and attend “closed door” meetings.
Congress MP Jairam Ramesh, who is the chief of the Standing Committee of Science and Technology, told The Hindu that Dhankhar’s order to appoint members of his personal staff to Parliamentary Standing Committees is unprecedented and inexplicable.
“As chairman of one of the Standing Committees I fail to see the value addition from this unilateral move,” he added. “These are Standing Committees of Rajya Sabha and not Standing Committees of Chairman.”
Another Congress MP, Manish Tewari, also questioned the move.
“VP is chairperson of Council of States ex-officio,” he tweeted. “He is not a Member of House like vice chairperson or panel of vice chairpersons. How can he appoint personal staff on Parliamentary Standing Committees? Would this not tantamount to institutional subversion?”