The Comptroller and Auditor General of India, commonly referred to as the CAG if the principal financial officer of our nation and the safe keeper of public money. Articles 148 to Article 151 deals with rules and regulations about the CAG. The Office of the CAG is one of those which are independent from the control of the legislative.
It is an autonomous body just like the Election Commission, the Judiciary or the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). Thus, it is one of the most important offices in the country and its chief executive officer is the Comptroller and Auditor General who is the head of Indian Audit and Accounts Department and also regulates the ingress and egress of funds to various arms of the government both at the State level as well as the Central level.
Even Dr. B.R. Ambedkar once said that the CAG shall be one of the most important officers under the Constitution of India.
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Appointment and Office
The CG is appointed by the President of India and hold office for a term of six years until the attainment of the age of sixty five years. Since he is appointed by the President, his resignation also as to be addressed to the President.
The process of premature termination of any CAG is same as that of the removal of a judge, i.e., impeachment. In order to ensure transparency and independence in the workings of the CAG, the office has been endowed with several benefits such as:
- Security of tenure – The process of removal of a CAG is very serious and can only be done through impeachment on grounds of severe public, and professional misdemeanor. Even though he is appointed by the President, he cannot be removed as per the whims and fancies of the President. The CAG doesn’t not hold office as per the pleasure of the President though he is appointed by him.
- The CAG, after serving his term is not eligible for any other Office neither under the Government of India nor under any State Government. This has been done to ensure that he doesn’t not exercise undue control on the basis of his previous posting and seniority.
- The Salary of the CAG is equivalent to that of a senior judge of the Supreme Court.
- All the administrative expenses of the CAG office are taken from the Consolidated Fund of India which is not subject to the elective powers of the Parliament.
Duties and Powers of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India
The Article 149 of the Constitution states the duties and powers of the office of the CAG are to be prescribed by the Parliament as per the CAG Act, 1971.
- One of the principal functions of the CAG is to audits the expenditures of the Consolidated Funds of India, both of the Central as well as of the State and even those of the Union Territories.
- Also, he has the control over the audits of the Contingency Fund of India, State Contingency Funds as well as the Public Accounts of India (PAI).
- The CAG also audits the financial transactions and balance sheets of the trading, manufacturing sectors of India.
- The monitoring of the Central as well as State receipts and expenditure also comes under the duties of the CAG.
- Expenditures and receipts of all bodies that are directly or indirectly financed by the Central or State revenue are also audited by the CAG.
- All sorts of transactions between the Centre and State government related to debts, sinking funds, deposits, advances, stock accounts, etc are under the surveillance and audit of the CAG.
- According to Article 151 of the constitution, the CAG submits all the audited accounts to the President as well as both the houses of the Legislature. Also, the CAG submits all the audited accounts of the State Government to the Governor of a State who then presents them to the State Legislature.
- Article 279 certifies net proceeds of any tax or duty, and its net proceeds shall be final and binding.
- Amendment of 1976 to the CAG Act, 1971 has separated the State and the Central accounts. Thus there is now another body for the audit of State accounts.
CAG in recent media
Recently, the office of the CAG under the chairmanship of Vinod Rai has come to the foreground after massive leaks of public money and substantial black money gains were noticed in the 2G Spectrum Scam where the county lost about USD 4.8 billion, as well as the Coal Mine Allocation scam (colloquially called CoalGate) where country lost revenues to the tune of USD 29 billion, the Fodder Scam where government funds were laundered worth over USD 150 billion from the Department of Animal Husbandry in Bihar and many more.
Following these scams, the then Comptroller and Auditor General had suggested certain reforms to the CAG Act of 1971:
- To bring all private-public partnerships (PPPs), Panchayti Raj Institutions and societies getting government funds within the purview of the CAG.
- To increase the powers of the CAG to allow them to seek audit accounts several government organizations. In an estimate, the former CAG Vinod Rai has said that about 30% departments denied them audit reports that were summoned for.
- The Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) projects have been given special privilege of not falling under the ambit of the CAG. As a result of this, projects worth billions of dollars are being floated allowing unscrupulous grotesque men to grope millions into their pockets.
However, because of being so vocal about the problems prevailing in the Government and the handicapped powers of the CAG, former office holder, Vinod Rai was severely criticized by the political milieu.
The Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India is one of immense jurisdiction and with it comes an immense responsibility to uphold the principles of the constitution and serve the nation for the development of its people and to lead the citizens into a corruption free and well developed future where no one would be deceived of the truth or denied of their rights.