This committee was created in 1964 on the recommendation of the Krishna Menon Committee. Originally, it had 15 members (10 from the Lok Sabha and 5 from the Rajya Sabha). However, in 1974, its membership was raised to 22 (15 from the Lok Sabha and 7 from the Rajya Sabha). The members of this committee are elected by the Parliament every year from amongst its own members according to the principle of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote. Thus, all parties get due representation in it. The term of office of the members is one year. A minister cannot be elected as a member of the committee. The chairman of the committee is appointed by the Speaker from amongst its members who are drawn from the Lok Sabha only. Thus, the members of the committee who are from the Rajya Sabha cannot be appointed as the chairman.
The functions of the committee are:
1. To examine the reports and accounts of public undertakings
2. To examine the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General on public undertakings
3. 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
4. To exercise such other functions vested in the public accounts committee and the estimates committee in relation to public undertakings which are allotted to it by the Speaker from time to time
The committee is not to examine and investigate any of the following:
(i) Matters of major government policy as distinct from business or commercial functions of the public undertakings
(ii) Matters of day-to-day administration
(iii) Matters for the consideration of which machinery is established by any special statute under which a particular public undertaking is established
Further, the effectiveness of the role of the committee is limited by the following:
(a) It cannot take up the examination of more than ten to twelve public undertakings in a year.
(b) Its work is in the nature of a post-mortem.
(c) It does not look into technical matters as its members are not technical experts.
(d) Its recommendations are advisory and not binding on the ministries.