Facing resistance from private telecom firms unwilling to have their account books audited, the Comptroller and Auditor General has asked the Telecom Ministry to amend mobile service licence agreements so that the exercise can be carried out in spite of the objections.
“The Director General Audit, Post and Telegraph had suggested that since the private service providers are resisting to submit their books of accounts for CAG audit, the licence agreement between Department of Telecom (DoT) and the service providers may be amended in conformity with TRAI rules, enabling CAG to audit private service providers in clear and plain manner,” Telecom Minister A. Raja informed the Rajya Sabha.
In a written reply to a question, the Minister said the Director General Audit, Post and Telegraph has indicated that amendment of the licences was also necessary in view of the impending roll-out of 3G services by operators, which will mandate payment of additional spectrum charges.
The private service providers have railed against the prospect of the CAG looking into their books of account and have refused to give complete information.
Replying to another question on whether the CAG has the power to audit the accounts of private service providers, Mr. Raja said the matter is sub judice before the Delhi High Court.
“Therefore, as per legal advice, any challenge in the agreement may be considered only after the issue is finally adjudicated upon,” Mr. Raja said.
On the issue of whether the CAG has the powers to challenge or amend policy decisions of the government, Mr. Raja cited the opinion of the Ministry of Law and Justice, which had said the CAG has no duty or power to challenge policy decisions taken by the government.
The opinion of the Ministry of Law and Justice has been conveyed to the Director General Audit, Post and Telegraph, Mr. Raja said.