Expressing concern over the continued attempt to “undermine and weaken’’ the institution of Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), in connection with the 2G scam presumptive loss figures, a group of former bureaucrats on Friday deplored attempts to denigrate the important role of this crucial institution.
Coming out openly in support of the CAG, on the presumptive loss figure in the 2G spectrum allocation, these 20 former bureaucrats, who met here today, accused politicians of undermining the institution. “The key element in parliamentary democracy is the financial accountability of the executive to Parliament, which is secured through the institution of the CAG. We deplore the attempt that is being made to denigrate the important role of this crucial institution,’’ they said in a resolution passed at the meeting.
The bureaucrats also included those formerly associated with CAG. They lamented that the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which has to enforce the accountability of the executive to Parliament, seems to be in “disarray’’ with members of both ruling and opposition parties being at loggerheads with each other.
The statement signed by S.Krishnan, former Additional Secretary in the Finance Ministry and others, said the ‘casualty’ of the development is the importance of accountability. “The instrument of accountability (CAG) is wittingly or unwittingly being damaged, and the enforcer of accountability, PAC seems to be paralysed by internal dissensions,’’ the statement said.
On the issue of Rs. 2,645 crore loss figure projected by former DG, Audit (Post and Telecommunications) R.P. Singh which was overruled by present CAG, Vinod Rai subsequently, the statement said: “a particularly strange development is the reported attempt to question the CAG’s figures by quoting and questioning an official of the Audit Department. It is ‘amazing’ that the routine bureaucratic practice of superior correcting the work of a subordinate is being given a sinister interpretation.
The statement further said while the CAG has always been treated with great respect by PAC and the Committee on Public Undertakings, media reports suggest that this tradition is being abandoned and the CAG is being treated as a witness and summoned and questioned.
They also lamented that the PAC itself seems to be in disarray. It seems to be functioning as a group of representatives of different political parties, with the representatives of the Opposition trying to cause the utmost discomfiture to the ruling party, and the representatives of the ruling party trying fiercely to defend that party against any criticism.
The former civil service officials appealed to the Government, political parties and PAC and JPC members to pause and reflect on this critical issue before further damage is inadvertently caused to the institution of CAG and to the Committee’s themselves.
The signatories to the statement included Ramaswamy R. Iyer, former Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Nilamabar Srivastava, former Minister, Audit, Indian High Commission London; S. Krishnan and B. S.Ramaswamy both former Additional Secretaries in Government of India, former Deputy CAG’s -- S. Laxminarain, B. P .Mathur, R. Parameswar, Dharam Vir, I. P. Singh, Vijay Kumar and Kanwal Nath and A. M.Sehgal, former Controller General of Accounts, Lachhman Singh, Surinder Pal (both former Principal Accountants General), Rajeshwar Prasad, former Director Finance, Oil India, J. Mandal, former Director General, Audit and T.L.Gupta, K.L. Kapoor and Harish Chander (all Directors, Institute of Public Auditors of India).