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Q: Exercise of CAG’s power in relation to the account of the Union and the States is derived from Article 149 of the Indian Constitution. Discuss whether audit if the government’s policy implementation could amount to overstepping of its (CAG) own jurisdiction.
A: “The Comptroller and Auditor General is a Constitutional body (Article 148) provided to audit the accounts of the state.
Article 149 authorises the Parliament to prescribe duties and powers of the CAG accordingly. The Parliament enacted CAG’s DPC (Duties, Powers and Conditions of Service) Act, 1971.
This law lays down duties of CAG as:
- Auditing authority
- Procuring accounts of the Union and the States
- Laying audit reports in the legislature.
But, according to the above law, CAG has no authority to question the intent of the expenditure caused by the public policy making, which is the duty of the legislature.
In this light, CAG is often criticised by the executive for overstepping its mandate with respect to the government’s policy implementation. Also, Paul H. Appleby criticises Indian CAG on these counts:
- CAG is the primary cause of widespread policy paralysis
- Auditors don’t know and cannot be expected to know much about good administration.
Is there a need for a proactive CAG?
a) In a developing country like India, where financial discipline is not at it’s best and populist politics is quite widespread, a proactive CAG is imperative.
b) CAG has played an instrumental rise in bringing out serious misappropriations of public fund, e.g. Trial of accused in case of 2G spectrum, cancellation of illegally allowed coal blocks by SC.
All these indicate that outreach of CAG is quintessential and indispensable for the enforcement of accountability.
c) The overstepping of CAG is very much in line with the changing scenario of public administration, whereby the New Public Management tools like social auditing of schemes, judicious use of meagre resources is required.
d) CAG as a watchdog of public finance enforces answerability of the Executive to the Parliament and to the people for all its decisions.
Thus, the notion of overstepping of CAG in auditing government’s policy implementation is not actually overstepping of its jurisdiction per-se. But, it is a symbol of evolution of CAG in this vibrant democracy to induce proper checks and balances in the functioning of the executive arm of the government. As it can be observed, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, in the Constituent Assembly debate said that the CAG is a more important Constitutional functionary than the judiciary itself.”
Why this answer is good:
- The answer has utmost relevance to the question. It doesn’t digress to some other issue/topic.
- There are pointers marked in the answer which give visual clarity of the content of the answer.
- All the sections mentioned are correct.
- Introductory paragraph contains keywords from the question, which are explained properly.
- Appropriate side headings.
Scope for improvement:
- In case of changing the topic, always underline your sub-heading and use CAPITAL LETTERS. A clean representation is quite important. (Is there a need for a proactive CAG?)
- Flowcharts/diagrams are also extremely important in making the examiner understand at a glance.
- Too many Articles being quoted in the article makes it look bookish. Quoting articles as they are isn’t mandatory. You can write the context in your own words, as long as the subject doesn’t change.
- Providing recent examples (if any) adds an edge to your understanding of the topic and thus to your answer.
- Analyse as many dimensions as possible with respect to the question. A scholarly answer is rarely appreciated by the UPSC.
ALL THE BEST!