|Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual introduction.
Body. Discuss the role of CAG as anti-corruption institution. Various issues related to CAG.
Conclusion. Way forward.
Comptroller and Auditor General is an important constitutional body that ensures government accountability in India. Article 148 of the Constitution provides for a CAG with the status of a Supreme Court judge. Constitutionally, it has been mandated to enhance the accountability of the Executive to the Parliament and State legislatures by carrying out audits in the public sector.
CAG as anti-corruption institution:
- Accountability: The accountability of the executive ( council of ministers) to the parliament in the sphere of financial administration is secured through audit reports of the CAG.
- Ensure financial transparency: The CAG ascertains whether money shown in the accounts as having been disbursed was used for the purpose to which they have been charged. Thus, it ensures proper use of money.
- Fiscal watch: In addition to this legal and regulatory audit, the CAG can also conduct the propriety audit, that is, he can look into the wisdom, faithfulness and economy of government expenditure and comment on the wastefulness and extravagance of such expenditure.
- Effective check: It is the duty of the CAG to audit all receipts which are payable into the Consolidated Fund of India. The rules and procedures are designed to ensure an effective check on the assessment, collection and proper allocation of revenue.
- Financial administration: His duty is to uphold the Constitution of India and laws of Parliament in the field of financial administration. The accountability of the executive ( the council of ministers) to the Parliament in the sphere of financial administration is secured through audit reports of the CAG.
- Expose corruption: CAG reports play an important role in exposing corruption and misuse of government money. For example, CAG role played an important role in exposing coal scam.
Some issues faced by CAG:
- Government Inaction: The CAG mostly find his reports hitting the junk pile of government records. Many times government just ignore CAG findings.
- Periodicity: There is no deadline for the production of documents and replies nor any contempt proceedings for their denial.
- Less independence: The CAG doesn’t have the right to release these reports in the public domain if they are not presented in the legislature within a month of their submission. Nor can CAG enforce any of its findings by decree, akin to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.
- Post-expenditure Audit: The CAG does the audits post-expenditure, so it is more of an auditor than being a comptroller like the British CAG.
- Proprietary Audits: The propriety audits are discretionary for CAG which is also another issue.
The CAG has to some extent achieved what he set out to do, especially when it comes to redefining the role of the office and the public perception of auditors. Despite the severest limitations, the CAG still creditably survives in the defence of accountability, a knight in shining armour amidst the overwhelming rot. The office is a unique combination of knowledge, integrity, commitment and fearlessness. Indeed, the Comptroller and Auditor-General is India’s second remaining pillar of democracy.