Comptroller and Auditor General of India (Article 148-151)
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India holds one of the most pivotal offices in the country; the CAG controls the entire financial system of the country (Article 148) both at the Union level as well as the state levels.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar had addressed the CAG as the most important officer under the Constitution of India as he is the guardian of the public purse, and it is his duty to ensure that funds from the Consolidated Fund of India or of a state are not spent without the authority of the appropriate legislature. He is the pivot of the audit and accounts system of India.
The appointment and range of powers of the CAG reflect the importance of his office. The CAG needs to have a neutral identity, someone who is devoid of any political affiliation. He also enjoys protection against biased removal from office. His salary and pension are charged from the Consolidated Fund of India, which cannot be altered to his disadvantage. To keep his office away from conflict, the CAG is not eligible for further employment.
The concept of the CAG of India was taken from the United Kingdom. Sir Edward Drummond was appointed as the first Auditor General of India in the year 1860. The office of the CAG in the Constitution is inspired by the Auditor General under the Government of India Act 1935.
Appointment, Tenure, Oath, Qualification, and Removal of CAG (Article 148):
- Part V, Chapter V of the Indian Constitution (Articles 148-151) deals with the CAG.
- The office of the CAG is included in the Union list of India.
- The salary of the CAG of India cannot be reduced during the term of his office under any circumstances except when a financial emergency is imposed (Article 360).
- The CAG of India, who is the guardian of the public money, is appointed by the President for a term of 6 years or 65 years of age.
- The salary of the CAG is determined by the Parliament of India and is charged from the Consolidated Fund of India.
- The CAG is not eligible to be re-elected.
- The CAG, after the completion of their tenure, can’t be re-appointed, neither by the Government of India nor by any state government.
- The procedure for removal of the CAG is similar to that of the judges of the Supreme Court of India. The CAG of India may be removed by the President of India on the recommendation of the Parliament of India.
Responsibilities and the range of powers exercised by the CAG of India (Article 149):
- ‘The CAG’s Duties, Powers and Conditions of Service Act’ was enacted by the Parliament of India in 1971. It was amended in 1976.
- The CAG shall perform duties and exercise powers with respect to the Union accounts and the accounts of the states or any other government authority or body as prescribed by any law.
- Originally, the CAG had two duties which he/she had to perform Accounting and Auditing, but presently CAG only audits the accounts of the Government of India, the Government of the States, and the accounts of the government-owned companies (DVC, ONGC, etc.)
- The CAG also audits the accounts related to all the expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI), Public Accounts Fund of India (PAFI), Contingency Fund of India, Consolidated Fund of the States (CFS), Public Accounts Fund of the states (PAFS) and Contingency Fund of the state.
- The CAG audits the accounts of any other authority as well when requested by the President or the Governors of the states. For instance, the local bodies, several Public-Private Partnership Projects (PPP)
- The CAG also audits the accounts of the Union Territories, which have a legislative Assembly.
CAG’S Responsibilities and duties in Maintaining accounts of the Union and States (Article 150):
- The CAG of India advises the President in the maintenance of the accounts of the Union as well as the States.
Audit Reports of the CAG (Article 151):
- The report of the CAG regarding the account of the Union is submitted to the President of India; he again submits it before the Parliament for their reconsideration.
- The reports of the CAG regarding the accounts of the States are submitted to the Governor; he then submits it before the state legislature.
- The Public Accounts Committee of India examines the annual audit report of the CAG of India.
The CAG is the unbiased head of the audit and accounts system of India. The constitution of India has ensured his/her smooth functioning without interference from the executive in terms of his/her appointment, terms of service, salary, and removal. It is his duty to uphold the ideals of the Constitution of India and laws of the Parliament in the sphere of financial administration. The functions of the CAG are very important in Indian parliamentary democracy to ensure accountability and transparency. He thus has been guaranteed the freedom to perform his functions freely and independently without any interference, and act as the ‘Guardian of Indian Purse’.