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A primer on the Comptroller and Auditor General
December, 13th 2010

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India is a Constitutional Authority set up by the Constitution of India. Provisions of the CAG are contained in Article 148 (Comptroller and Auditor General of India), 149 (Duties and powers of the CAG), 150 (Form of accounts of the Union and of the States), and 151 (Audit reports) of the Constitution. He draws a salary equal to the judge of the Supreme Court.

POWERS OF CAG

These Articles of the Constitution give wide powers to the CAG to advise the President of India on the manner in which the accounts of the Government of India and of the States are to be maintained as well as to carry out an audit and to report on these accounts. The CAG submits his reports to the President of India on matters of national interest and to the Governor of the State on matters pertaining to any particular State. The President and the Governor, in turn, would place them in the houses of Parliament or the Assembly as the case may be for their scrutiny.

The CAG is appointed by the President of India under his hand (Article 148) and continues in office as long as he enjoys the confidence of the President of India.

He shall not be removed from office except on the grounds of incapacity or misbehaviour. He can be removed only when Parliament decides so by passing separate resolutions with a two thirds majority in both the Houses of the Parliament.

DUTIES OF CAG

Following are the duties of the CAG: To compile and submit the accounts of the States and the Union of India; audit of accounts of the Union of India and the States of India; audit of expenditure; audit of grants; audit of receipts of the Union and the States; audit of stores and stocks; and audit of Government companies and corporations

Expenditure audit is a major part of the job of CAG. While carrying out expenditure audit, he should ensure that the expenditure has been incurred in accordance with the rules framed. The related Ministry or the Department frames these rules. He should ensure that there is a sanction from a competent authority for the expenditure. He should ensure that the expenditure had been incurred for the purpose for which it has been provided for and that the expenditure does not exceed the funds provided. Such expenditure should be incurred by the officer who is functioning well within his jurisdiction and that there is no misuse of funds. The officer concerned should check the cause, extent and nature of expenditure before spending the money. Where the Government finances projects, he should ensure that the units are performing satisfactorily and yielding the desired results.

Propriety audit: This is an element of the audit of expenditure. The CAG aims this audit at ensuring that personal element does not creep into the discharge of duties by the Minister, or his Departmental officers.

Even if the expenditure has been in conformity with the rules and orders, properly sanctioned and provided for, the auditor should ensure that it is not infructuous, or improper or avoidable considering the timing of the expenditure. The expenditure should be well within the limits as the circumstances warrant. The officer concerned should use his discretion and exercise the same caution while spending public money as if it were his own money.

Sanctioning any expenditure should not directly or indirectly benefit the officer concerned. Similarly, there should not be any ambiguity in respect of the assessment of revenue to the Government. The officer should take a macro view of the situation.

Neither the officer concerned nor the next of his kin should get any benefit, either directly or indirectly by entering into a transaction. Expenditure should not be sanctioned to a specific person or a group of persons unless it has been ordered by a court of law or following an established practice. Propriety audit is aimed at reporting any avoidable expenditure being incurred or any personal benefits arising to an official from a particular transaction.

AUDIT OF RECEIPTS

Audit of receipts of the Governments is as important as audit of expenditure. In audit of receipts, the CAG should ensure that the income has been properly assessed, received and credited to the Government accounts. The CAG also probes the basis of assessment and whether the assessment is done in accordance with the law in force from time to time. He should strive to see whether proper systems and procedures laid down for such collections are being implemented. Possibility of evasion should be curbed. He should see whether there are adequate controls to eliminate leakage of income, irregularities etc. He should see whether the receipts have been correctly accounted for and turned to the Government's account by the department concerned.

AUDIT REPORTS

Upon completion of the audit, the CAG submits the report to the President of India or to the Governor of the State concerned.

These reports are tabled in Parliament and in the Assembly for further discussion. The House refers the matter to the Public Accounts Committee for opinion and decides upon the future course of action. In fit cases, the matter may be referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee for a further probe and necessary actions.

 
 
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