Move to make CAG answerable to Parliament opposed

A proposal to make the Comptroller and Auditor General answerable to Parliament has run into a wall of opposition.

The proposal to make the CAG, an autonomous body, responsible to Parliament was made at the All India Conference of Public Accounts Committees of Parliament and state legislatures.

“The CAG is an independent institution and it should remain so. Making it answerable to Parliament would amount to dilution of its powers,” AICC spokesman Shobha Oza said.
BJP leader Nishikant Dubey had made a strong pitch for making the CAG responsible to Parliament by making relevant amendments to the 1971 law that governs the CAG.

“CAG should also be answerable to someone,” Dubey argued and pointed out that the government auditor was part of the legislature in the United Kingdom and Australia.
Senior Congress leader and PAC Chairman K V Thomas explained that the proposal was made by some chairpersons of the PACs of the state legislatures during the two-day meeting in September.

Parliament sources cited the example of the Election Commission, also a Constitutional authority, which was made into a three-member body after the controversial tenure of the then Chief Election Commissioner T N Seshan. “This is just a proposal and it is yet to be discussed by the PAC,” Thomas said.

BJD leader and Lok Sabha member Bhratruhari Mahtab, who is also member of the Public Accounts Committee, also strongly favoured retaining the existing nature of the CAG. “The CAG is an independent body and it should continue to function independently,” Mahtab told Deccan Herald.

He said the PAC acts as a quasi-judicial body whenever there are differences of opinion between the Executive and the government auditor, the decision of the Public Accounts Committee is final. “Once we make CAG accountable to Parliament, you cannot have the PAC functioning judiciously,” said Mahtab, who is the leader of the BJD in the Lok Sabha.
JD(U) president Sharad Yadav also opposed any changes to the C&AG. “Institutions are built over a period of time. It would be wrong to take away the independence or autonomy of the C&AG,” he said.

Shiv Sena leader Anand Adsul also opposed the proposal. “If the CAG has to function efficiently, it has to be independent,” said Adsul, who represents Amravati constituency in the Lok Sabha.

“I have been a member of the PAC for 7-8 years and I have never felt that the C&AG should be made responsible to Parliament,” said Adsul, who also served as Union Minister during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure as prime minister.

A three-member sub-committee of the PAC, chaired by BJP leader Nishikant Dubey, will examine the 20-odd recommendations made by the conference, including making CAG accountable to Parliament. The report of the sub-committee will be discussed by the full PAC which would give the final shape to the recommendations.

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