whether public money is being used properly or not; Its auditing is the main task of the Comptroller and Auditor General of india.

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Comptroller and Auditor Genera

Comptroller and Auditor General

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Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG)

In a democracy, people who have powers and responsibilities must be accountable for their actions. The Indian Constitution mandates many institutions to ensure this such as Judiciary Vigilance Commission etc.

In this sequence, a Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) has also been established, which we commonly know as CAG. Article 148 – 151 of the Constitution determines the special role of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India.

Article 148 of the Constitution of India provides for the independent office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, which in short is called the “Auditor General”. It is the head of the Indian Audit and Accounts Department.

The Comptroller and Auditor General presents three audit reports to the President:

(1) Audit report on appropriation accounts,
(2) Audit Report on Finance Accounts and
(3 ) Audit Report on Government Undertakings.

The President lays these reports on the Table of both the Houses of Parliament, after which the Public Accounts Committee examines them and informs the Parliament of its findings.

Ordinance

“The Comptroller and Auditor General will be the most important authority under the Constitution of India. It will be one of the protectors (Supreme Court, Election Commission and Union Public Service Commission) of the Government of India in a democratic set up.”

— Dr. B R Ambedkar

Objectives of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India

Promote accountability, transparency and good governance through high quality audit and accounting and provide independent assurance to its stakeholders, the legislature, the executive and the public, that public funds are being used efficiently and for intended purposes.

Appointment and tenure

The Comptroller and Auditor General is appointed by the President. Before assuming office, it takes the following oath or affirmation before the President:

1. Will have true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India.
2. Will uphold the unity and integrity of India.
3. I shall perform the duties of my office with due diligence and devotion and to the best of my ability, knowledge and discretion, without fear or favour, affection or malice.
4. I will uphold the dignity of the constitution and laws.

Its tenure is for 6 years or till the age of 65 years (whichever is earlier). Before this he can send his resignation to the President at any time. It can be removed by the President in the same way as a judge of the Supreme Court is removed. In other words, he can be removed by passing a resolution on his misbehavior or disqualification by both the Houses of Parliament with a special majority.

Independence of the Comptroller and Auditor General

The following provisions have been made in the Constitution to ensure the independence and security of the Comptroller and Auditor General:

1. Even though it is appointed by the President, but they do not work during the pleasure of the President, that is, the President cannot remove it from his mind. Rather, it can be removed only through action mentioned in the constitution.

2. He cannot, after leaving his office, assume any other office, whether that of the Government of India or that of the State Government. This has been done so that they can do their work without worrying about future profits.

3. The salary and other conditions of service are determined by the Parliament. However, after the appointment, the Parliament cannot make unfavourable changes in his service conditions. The salary of a CAG is equal to that of a judge of the Supreme Court.

4. The conditions of service of persons working in the office of the Auditor General of India, Accounts Department and the administrative powers of the Comptroller and Auditor General shall be such as may be prescribed by rules made by the President after consultation with the Comptroller and Auditor General.

6. Administrative expenses, salary allowances and pension of the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General shall be charged on the Consolidated Fund of India. Therefore, they cannot be voted on in Parliament.

Duties and Powers of the Comptroller and Auditor General

Under Article 149, Parliament has the right to refer the matters related to the Auditor General of any authority or institution to the CAG, for this Parliament enacted the Auditor General (Duties, Powers and Conditions of Service) Act 1971.

So overall the functions and duties of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India established by the Parliament and the Constitution are as follows:

1. It audits the accounts of all expenditure in the Consolidated Fund of India, the Consolidated Fund of each State and each Union Territory having a Legislative Assembly.

3. It conducts the audit of all trading, manufacturing profit and loss accounts, balance sheets and other subsidiary accounts by any department of the central government and other governments.

2. It audits all expenditure from the Contingency Fund of each State and the Public Account of each State including the Public Account of India.

4. It also audits the receipts and expenditure of the following institutions:

(1) All Union and State Government Departments including Indian Railways, Defence, Posts and Telecommunications which receive grants from the Central or State Governments:
(2) Union and State About 1500 public commercial enterprises controlled by the government, such as government companies and corporations. and,
(3) about 400 non-commercial autonomous bodies and authorities controlled and owned by the Union and State Governments.

5. It also audits the accounts of any other authority at the request of the President or the Governor. Such as audit of local bodies. Along with this, it also advises the President regarding the format in which the accounts of the Center and the states should be maintained.

6. Under Article 151, it reports on the accounts of the Central Government to the President, who lays them on the Table of Parliament. Similarly, it reports on the accounts of the State Government to the Governor, who lays them on the table of the Legislature.

7. It determines and certifies, under Article 279, the net proceeds of any tax or duty, its certificate in this regard is final. Here net revenues mean receipts of taxes or duties, excluding the cost of collection.

8. It acts as a guide and friend of the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament.

9. It compiles and maintains the accounts of the State Governments. Earlier, it was also used by the Government of India but in 1976 it was relieved from the work of compilation and maintenance of accounts of the Central Government.

Role of Comptroller and Auditor General of India

The CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India) has to determine whether the money has been used for the purpose or service for which it was legally allotted.

In order to conduct its audit work uninterruptedly, certain powers have been given to the CAG such as –

(1) Power to inspect any office or organization under audit.
(2) Power to inquire into all transactions and to question executive.
(3) Power to call for any record, paper, document from any audited entity.
(4) Power to decide on the extent and nature of audit.

It can also examine the reasonableness, integrity and economy of government expenditure and can also comment on the futility and pretentiousness of such expenditure.

The Auditor General is responsible for the maintenance of the Constitution of India and parliamentary law in the field of financial administration. The Auditor General is an agent of the Parliament and through him audits the expenses. Thus he is responsible only to the Parliament.

The Indian Audit and Accounts Department (IA&AD) helps the CAG in performing its constitutional role. Whose officers are usually selected by the Public Service Examination conducted by UPSC.

The role of CAG in the audit of public corporations is limited. Broadly, its relationship with public corporations can be seen under the following three categories:

(1) Some corporations are audited wholly and directly by the CAG. For example Damodar Valley Corporation, Oil and Natural Gas Commission, Air India, Indian Airlines Corporation etc.

(2) Some other corporations are audited by private professional auditors, who are appointed by the central government on the advice of the CAG. Example Central Warehousing Corporation, Industrial Finance Corporation and others.

(3) Audit of some other corporations is done entirely by private professional auditors and CAG has no role in this. Example Life Insurance Corporation, Reserve Bank of India, State Bank of India, Food Corporation of India etc.

The Audit Board was established in 1968 as a part of the CAG office on the recommendations of the Indian Administrative Reforms Commission. To take care of the technical aspects of the audit of specialization based specialized enterprises like engineering, iron and steel chemicals etc.

Criticism

The CAG is envisaged in the Constitution as the Comptroller and Auditor General. But in practice the CAG is only the Auditor General as the CAG has no control over the withdrawal of money from the Consolidated Fund of India and many departments can withdraw money by issuing checks without the authority of the CAG,

Overall, the role of the CAG begins when the expenditure has been incurred. While talking about the CAG of Britain, without its approval, the executive cannot withdraw money from the treasury.

Secret Service expenditure (i.e. expenditure that is not made public such as expenditure related to an intelligence agency) sets limits on the audit role of the CAG. The CAG cannot seek the details of expenditure incurred by the executive agencies in this regard.

The function of the CAG in India is in fact a legacy of colonial rule. Parliament has failed to define the functions of the CAG as expected of it in the Constitution.

PAUL H. APPLEBY

https://cag.gov.in/

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