Comptroller and Auditor General of India: The Guardian of Public Accounts

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow

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The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) is a constitutional body established under Article 148 of the Indian Constitution. CAG serves as the supreme audit institution of India, responsible for promoting transparency, accountability, and good governance by auditing and reporting on the financial operations of the government.

Appointment and Tenure

The CAG is appointed by the President of India and holds office for a term of six years or until attaining the age of 65, whichever is earlier. The CAG can be removed from office only through an impeachment process similar to that applicable for a Supreme Court judge, ensuring a high degree of independence.

Functions and Responsibilities

Financial Audit

The CAG examines the accounts of the Union and State governments to ensure that the money has been allocated and spent as per the law.

Performance Audit

Apart from checking the legality of transactions, the CAG also assesses the effectiveness and efficiency of government programs and initiatives.

Compliance Audit

The CAG ensures that financial rules and regulations are followed by different departments of the government. Any deviations are reported for further investigation.

Reporting

The CAG submits its audit reports to the President or Governor, who then place the reports before the Parliament or State Legislature. These reports serve as a critical input for scrutinizing government performance and for informed discussions in the legislature.

Independence

To carry out its duties effectively, the CAG is endowed with a considerable degree of independence. The Constitution ensures that the CAG is insulated from any executive influence, and its budget is charged on the Consolidated Fund of India, ensuring financial autonomy.

Challenges

Limited Scope

Though the CAG plays a crucial role in holding the government accountable, its scope is confined to financial scrutiny, and it does not have the authority to question the merit of government policies.

Implementation of Recommendations

While the CAG can bring irregularities to light, it has no power to enforce its recommendations. Enforcement depends on the legislative and executive branches of government.

Timely Reporting

Given the vast scope of its duties and limited resources, the CAG faces challenges in conducting timely audits, making some of its findings less impactful due to the lapse of time.

Conclusion

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India plays a vital role in the democratic framework of the country. As the watchdog of public finances, it contributes to enhancing transparency and accountability in the functioning of the government. While challenges exist, the CAG’s role remains pivotal in ensuring that the government’s financial operations are conducted in line with the principles of good governance and accountability.