The force of an institution for the subsequent follow up action on its findings, reports, suggestions, and directions, for implementation, depends upon the weight of its source. Its credibility rests on the authenticity of its source. That is why a call from any judicial/executive magistrate or constitutional authority is taken differently than others. This is true of not only for deposition or confirming statements, enquires, investigations, probes but also of research & development works.
The more powerful the institution, and authentic its findings, the more application it demands in practice. Key factor is its awareness among the people. One such authority little known is ‘the Nation’s Auditor ’- the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
It is incredibly true as well as piteous to see some officers asking about the status and the mandate of the CAG. Confirmation of CAG as a country-level central constitutional authority for the work of auditing under the direct control of the President of India works a news to them.
The authority of CAG originates mainly from the provisions of the Articles 148 to 151 of the Constitution of India, besides Parliamentary Acts on CAG, and conventions & practices followed before the commencement of the Constitution.
Parliament passed the regulation of CAG (Duties, Powers & Conditions of Service) Act in 1971 which came into force with effect from 15-12-1971, with amendments made to it from time to time.
In the intervening period between 26-1-1950 (with the adoption of Constitution) and 14-12-971, the CAG performed duties & exercised such powers as were available to the Auditor General of India immediately before the commencement of the Constitution under the Government of India (Audit & Accounts) Order, 1936.
Article 148 deals with appointment of CAG by the President of India. Article 149 relates to his duties & powers in respect of accounts of the Union or of the States, Union Territories and any other body or authority as may be prescribed by law. Article 150 is regarding Forms of Accounts of the Union and of the States.
Article 151 concerns with submission of Audit Reports of the Union/States to the President/Governor for being laid before the union /state as the case may be. The CAG’s DPCS Act, 1971 has 26 Sections sub-divided into four Chapters. Chapter I contains section 1 & 2 pertaining to Short Title & Definition. Chapter II covers sections 3 to 9 prescribing term of office, salary, leave, pension and other conditions of service.
Chapter III comprises 11 sections from 10 to 20 dealing with duties & powers in relation to audit of expenditure & revenue of the Union and of the States and Bodies & Authorities established by or under law. Chapter IV is Miscellaneous and contains sections 21 to 26 of the Act.
For instant scope requirement of the DDOs and space limitation here we shall recapitulate briefly the most used important Chapter III of the Act which is as follows.
a) Section 10 deals with the responsibility for compilation of the accounts of the Union and of the States.
b) Section 11 deals with the responsibility to prepare Appropriation Accounts & Finance Accounts of the Union and of the States and submission of the same to the President/Governor.
c) Section 12 provides for rendering assistance to Union/State Governments in preparation of budget and other information as asked for.
d) Section 13 deals with duty to audit all expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India ,of each State, each Union territory having a Legislative Assembly, audit of Contingent Funds, Public Accounts including Trading , Manufacturing, Profit & Loss Account and Balance Sheet maintained in every department of the Union or of a State or Union Territory besides reporting in each case on the expenditure audit by him.
e) Section 14 pertains to audit of receipts & payments of bodies or authorities substantially financed by grants or loans from the Consolidated Fund of India or of any State or of Union Territory with a report thereon.
f) Section 15 lays down functions in case of grants or loans given to authorities or bodies for any specific purpose from the Consolidated Fund of India/State or of Union Territory.
g) Section 16 deals with audit of receipts into Consolidated Fund of India or of each State or Union Territory and a report thereto.
h) Section 17 concerns with audit of all stock and stores of the Union or of each State and Union Territory with report thereon.
i) Section 18 gives authority to inspect any office of accounts under the control of Union or of the States including treasuries to inspect documents, books, papers etc, to put questions and call for information from the person in charge of the office. Sub-Section 2 of Section 18 requires the person in charge of the office or department the accounts of which are to be inspected & audited by the CAG to afford all facilities for such inspection and to comply with requests for information in as complete a form as possible and with all reasonable expedition.
j) Section 19(i) deals with duties in relation to the audit of accounts of Government Companies under Companies Act,1956, (ii) duties in relation to the audit of accounts of Corporations (not being Companies) established by law to be performed in accordance with respective Legislations , & (iii) duties when a request comes from Union/State Government to audit the accounts of a Corporation established by law made by Parliament/State Legislature.
k) Section 20 relates to the duties regarding audit of body or authority not entrusted to CAG other than those provided under Section 19 by any law of Parliament /State Legislature if requested by the Union/State Government on terms and conditions agreed upon between the CAG and the Union/State Government or Authority.
CAG serves as a tool and medium enabling people through legislature how tax money is utilised and bureaucracy held accountable before public. Apart from the classical bedrock of expenditure & revenue audit, the domain has been suggested to be extend to other realms of public life resultantly country has moved now to the concept and conduct of safety audit, manpower audit, academic audit, research & development audit, curriculum audit, evaluation audit, syllabus audit, achievements audit etc. Audit department is itself within the ambit of Audit by the Director of Audit & Inspection of CAG. In about 33 countries there are Courts of Audit/Accounts. If, with all its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis, the reports of the CAG on the working and accounts of the central/state governments, bodies, authorities & corporations as mentioned above are implemented for one five year plan, the next five year interval will be cleansed of any undesirable findings to figure in CAG’s Annual Report except procedural omissions. Misappropriations & embezzlements will vanish, scams and scandals go, public expenditure & revenue receipts will witness transparency, deficit financing/ budgeting will deplete to a satisfactory low required for a stably growing economy.
The author is a former Sr. Audit Officer and Consultant in the A.G’s Office Srinagar.