Mobile operator Bharti Airtel has questioned CAG’s authority to audit its accounts, saying the apex auditor’s powers are with respect to state-owned firms only.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) had earlier asked five telecom companies——Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices, Vodafone Essar and state-run BSNL—— to provide accounting details of three years from 2006-07 onwards to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
The DoT, which is acting as a mediator between telecom companies and the CAG, had also asked Tata Communications, which is an ISP provider, to make its accounting records for three years from 2006-07 available to CAG.
“The various sections of the CAG (Duties, Powers and Conditions of Service) Act 1971, which set out the duties and powers of the CAG are with respect to audit of accounts of government companies/corporations under the Union of State.
“These powers do not extend to private companies like Bharti Airtel,” Bharti Airtel said in a communication to Telecom Secretary P J Thomas.
Bharti Airtel officials declined to comment on the issue.
The company said the information sought by the CAG is confidential and sensitive from a competition point of view and asserted that such disclosures fall beyond its obligations under the licence agreement.
The company also questioned the need for conducting such an audit soon after a Special Audit by the department (DoT) which went on for eight months.
“The recent audit required us to spend an enormous number of hours and dedicate a large number of resources to collate the massive data required by DoT.