File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Role Of The Comptroller And Auditor General (CAG) In Indian Democracy

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the founding father of our Constitution once said that "the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) is the most important officer in the Constitution of India with duties far more important than the duties even the judiciary." India is celebrating the "AAZADI KA AMRIT MAHOTSAV" which is a festival of awakening the nation; aiming to fulfill the dream of good governance; and celebrating the festival of peace and development across the globe. The democratic system in India rests on the three pillars- the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary.

Although, these three organs of the State function independently, however, the law of the land, i.e., the Constitution of India establishes few institutions which monitor the function of these three pillars of the world's largest democracy; and CAG is one such institution which has played a significant role in strengthening India's democracy. CAG has played an important role since the very inception of its embodiment as an autonomous body in upholding the preambular norm of our Constitution by way of rendering justice- social, economic, and political.

Under Article 148 of the Constitution of India, the CAG is an autonomous constitutional body which is neither a part of the legislature nor the executive. Article 151 stipulates that the reports of the CAG pertaining to the Union and States shall be submitted to the President or the Governor of the State respectively and they shall cause the reports to be laid in the Parliament or the State Legislative Assembly. The founding fathers of our Constitution had envisaged a significant role for public audit in our country's governance and accountability framework.

CAG has rooted out the alleviating issues pertaining to corruption, black-money, and the anti-public policies of the government. It is evident from the various instances which prove that CAG has been playing a very significant role in achieving the goal of good governance such as the matter related to the improper implementation of the Ganga Action Plan 1979, inflation in the account of the Food Corporation of India (FCI), Bihar's financial misleading in the year 2000-01, 2G scam, Common Wealth Games menace, and the aggravating losses incurred by the Air India.

The Precursor To The Comptroller And Auditor General Of India (CAG)

In Henley's 13th Century Treatise of Housebandry, it is mentioned by Sir Walter "The Auditors ought to be faithful and prudent, knowing their business. It is not necessary so to speak to the Auditors about making audits for they ought to be so prudent, and so faithful, and so knowing in their business, that they have no need of others' teaching about things connected with accounts."

The history of auditing can be traced down to the ancient period. In the old treatises, ancient scriptures of administration especially Arthshashtra and Kautilya prescribed profound configuration for accounting and auditing. The financial stewardship arrangement had two separate and distinct levels of authority- a Treasurer and a Comptroller-Auditor and both reported directly to the king. The king valued the importance of transparent public audits conducted by honest officials.

Role Of CAG

Recently, a political lobby emanated over the CAG report which brought to attention the high construction cost of the Dwarka Expressway. As per the CAG report, the Dwarka expressway, covering a distance of 29.06 kilometers, is being constructed at an extravagant expense of Rs. 250.77 crore for each kilometer, surpassing the Rs. 18.2 crore limit, the officially sanctioned fund by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). It is therefore the role of CAG is very crucial for a resilient democracy like India in order to ensure good governance and transparency in all the organs of the State.
  1. Financial Management:
    The CAG plays a crucial role in the financial committee of Parliament and State Legislatures as a 'friend, philosopher, and guide' of the financial committee. On May 30, 1949, in the Constituent Assembly Debates when the drafts of Article 149, Article 150, and Article 151 which primarily deal with the Auditor General of India were discussed and debated at length, TT Krishnamachari proposed changing the title from Auditor- General to Comptroller and Auditor- General. The reason behind this proposal was that the responsibilities of this office are not only confined to auditing but also actively overseeing government spending. The CAG's duty is to verify whether the amount mentioned in the accounts was legally available for the intended purpose and whether the expenses align with the governing regulations.
  2. Regulatory Audit as part of Constitutional duty:
    The CAG carries out a Regulatory Audit as part of his Constitutional duties. In this Audit, the CAG examines various aspects of government spending and expenditure. When auditing the income of both the Union and State Governments, the CAG ensures that the rules and procedures thereof guarantee that revenue is assessed, collected, and allocated in accordance with the procedures established by law. The aim is to prevent any loss of revenue that should be rightfully disbursed to the government. This regulatory audit helps maintain oversight of how public funds are allocated. Some audit reports, such as those which are pertaining to the uncovering of the 2G Spectrum Scam and the Commonwealth Games, have revealed instances where government actions did not align with public welfare objectives.
  3. Propriety Audit:
    The CAG's office has the sole authority to conduct Propriety Audit in order to assess how efficiently, actively, and prudently the public funds are being used. Unlike the legal and regulatory audit, which the CAG is required to carry out, the propriety audit is done at the discretion of the CAG. In other words, the CAG can choose whether or not to conduct this type of audit. It scrutinizes government spending to identify any wasteful or extravagant expenses.
  4. Transparency:
    Accountability and transparency are the twins that help to sustain our democratic progress. Transparency in public service is quintessential to good governance to ensure that benefits tickle to the downtrodden section of the society and the to the last person in the last row. CAG has a pivotal role in ensuring transparency otherwise corruption and inefficiency would creep into the system. Impactful and wholesome CAG functioning has generated the evolution of a transparent and accountable ecosystem that has contributed positively to our trajectory of growth.

    As per the principles enumerated under Article 151 of the Constitution of India, the CAG reports must be presented before both Houses of Parliament and the State Legislatures. These reports are anticipated to be thoroughly reviewed and examined by the Members of the Parliament and State Legislators. This engagement is crucial for enhancing the ethical standards, effectiveness, and transparency of governance, while also ensuring that accountability is upheld. The diligent work of the CAG will yield positive outcomes when accompanied by prompt actions from both the legislative and Executive branches, working in harmony and coordination.
  5. Ensuring better welfare activities:
    While in theory India is considered a welfare state where the government is supposed to act "for the people", the actual practice often falls short of this ideal. For instance, in a draft audit report on the KG-D6 block, the (CAG) found that the Oil Ministry and BGH had bent the rules to grant "significant benefits" to Reliance. However, the exact extent of these gains could not be quantified. Additionally, the Ministry was criticized for granting nearly 1,700 sq. km of an additional area of Carin India next to its oil discovery in the Rajasthan block.

    It is noteworthy that the CAG declined the Oil Ministry's request to allow private companies like Reliance and Cairn India, who were criticized in the draft report, to showcase their stands on the audit objections. The audit mandate does not require seeking the responses on draft observations, and the government can raise objections after the report is finalized and presented in Parliament. This ensures that these reports are tabled without any influence from private firms.
  6. Concern for the Environment:
    The CAG has taken a noteworthy step by Introducing Environmental Audits, which extend beyond government spending and have a lasting impact on future generations. In its inaugural environmental audit report presented to Parliament, the CAG criticized the Environment Ministry for its shortcomings in implementing projects related to afforestation, biodiversity, conservation, pollution control, and public awareness campaigns. The audit also pointed out issues such as insufficient monitoring and staffing. The report highlighted the poor implementation of the Ecocity Programme by the Central Pollution Control Board in six cities, with Rs. 1.88 crore remaining unspent with state pollution control boards for seven years.

The diligent efforts of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) will yield positive results when the Legislative and Executive branches work together in a timely manner. The judiciary has used various reports on its pronouncements of judgments in order to punish the wrongdoers. The Delhi High Court has recently observed, "the role of the CAG is not confined to accounts, it is beyond the routine examination of accounts, fraud detection, and instances of misfeasance. It extends to encompass inquiries into broader aspects such as "faithfulness, wisdom, and economy" concerning both government expenditure and receipts."

There is a need to amend the CAG Act, 1971 with an aim to enhance the authority of the CAG, aligning it more closely with the British model of the CAG. Moreover, a Joint Board consisting of members from Parliament and nominees from the CAG, primarily from the Indian Audit and Accounts Department should be constituted which will be responsible for the allocation of funds, thereby ensuring the proper and efficient utilization of public money.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Amar Kumar Pandey
Awarded certificate of Excellence
Authentication No: SP326526726941-22-0923

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly