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Don’t gag the CAG PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 April 2011 00:00
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Given it was the CAG report that forced the government to finally act on the Raja scam, and got it in all manner of trouble with the Supreme Court, it was always obvious the government would be hopping mad. Indeed, the government has lost no opportunity to trash the report, to argue that its R1.76 lakh crore loss was the result of a fevered imagination more than anything else. No one bought the argument made by the government, indeed the more forcefully the argument was made, the more the figure stuck in the popular mind. Ironically, a report by a former CAG head, VK Shunglu, who is himself investigating the corruption in the Commonwealth Games, may now serve to gag the CAG. As part of his report on the CWG, Shunglu has suggested that the CAG be recast along the lines of the Election Commission. So instead of having just one person who heads it, have a panel of three CAG Commissioners as it were. Remember the Election Commission pre- and post-TN Seshan, and the problem this caused when the election commissioners were not in sync? Shunglu has also suggested that a regular audit be carried out of the CAG reports by an independent team of accountants appointed by the Public Accounts Committee—right now, while the PAC discusses the CAG reports, the CAG findings are pretty much considered to be accurate.

 

It cannot be anyone’s case that institutions cannot be improved upon, and the CAG is no exception. Its reports have been criticised by many in the past, as have Shunglu’s on the CWG by everyone he has held guilty, but the cure suggested is likely to be worse than the disease. Getting the CAG to institute more internal controls is one thing, getting outside auditors to examine each point is quite another. The institution of the CAG was brought in to assist the government and legislators in governance and that is why it was given a special status and the CAG (DPC) Act of 1972 set out those roles.

Irrespective of whether bringing in a multi-member CAG will require a constitutional amendment, the problem with bad ideas is, once set in motion, they are difficult to eradicate.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 30 November 2011 17:15 )
 

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