ROLE AND POWERS OF CAG
The position of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has been regarded by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as the most important office under the constitution of India as it is pivotal in controlling the financial system of the country. The main function of the CAG is to audit the accounts of the government and comment on wastefulness or extravagance of expenditure and technicality or legality of revenue receipts. This function ensures the accountability of government and other public authorities to Parliament and State Legislatures as the CAG enforces answerability of the Executive with regard to financial matters. This is primarily because the Parliament allots funds to the executive and these funds have to be accounted for.
Article 148 of the Indian Constitution provides for the position of the CAG who is to be appointed by the President on recommendation of the Prime Minister. His main duty is to check accounts of unions and states including receipts and expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India and of the State and Legislative assembly; to keep a check on balance sheets of government departments; to conduct audit of government companies as mentioned in Companies Act 1956; audit of stores and stocks kept in government departments as well as an audit of grants and loans given by government to other bodies and authorities. These reports are either presented to the President or to the Governors of different states.
Furthermore, the Companies Act of 1956 empowers the CAG to appoint or re-appoint auditors of a government company, direct the manner in which accounts may be audited, conduct a text audit of accounts and give instructions to auditors with regard to any matters relating to auditing.
Off late, a large number of people have questioned and criticised the position of the CAG. This criticism is mainly based on ignorance and misperception of people who consider the CAG to be a mere auditor. However, what is important to understand here is that there is a reason as to why the constitution prescribes the oath of CAG to be identical to The Chief Justice or the judge of a Supreme Court. This is primarily because the CAG upholds democratic principles by fostering answerability of Executive to Parliament and so to the people.
It can therefore be said that the position of CAG is one of the most important offices under the constitution of India and this position can be further strengthened to enforce accountability if the audit reports are made more widely known and discussed.
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