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Updated: July 1, 2011 12:25 IST

Manmohan ignored ruling on CAG's rights

B. Muralidhar Reddy
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In his interaction with a group of editors on Wednesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh criticised the press meet held by the CAG in early January after the report on 2G spectrum irregularities was tabled in Parliament. File photo
The Hindu In his interaction with a group of editors on Wednesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh criticised the press meet held by the CAG in early January after the report on 2G spectrum irregularities was tabled in Parliament. File photo

In 2005, Madras HC said watchdog could brief media

In questioning the propriety and legality of the Comptroller and Auditor-General holding a news conference on its 2G report, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ignored not only past precedents but also a court ruling upholding the CAG's right to do so.

In his interaction with a group of editors on Wednesday, Dr. Singh criticised the press meet held by the CAG in early January after the report on 2G spectrum irregularities was tabled in Parliament. He said: “It [has] never been in the past that the CAG has held a press conference. Never in the past has the CAG decided to comment on a policy issue. It should limit the office to the role defined in the Constitution.”

But a 2005 judgment of the Madras High Court, upholding the right of CAG and its functionaries to brief the media on the contents of reports prepared by them and presented before the relevant Legislature, leaves no ambiguity on this count.

In P.G. Narayanan vs CAG (W.P.No.23408 of 2004 [2005] RD-TN 714), the High Court dismissed the contention of the petitioner, an MLA belonging to the ruling AIADMK, that the Tamil Nadu Accountant-General had ‘misused his authority' by going to press on an audit report pertaining to the State. The court noted that the CAG had stated in his affidavit “that specific instructions have been given by him to all the Accountant-Generals (Audit) of the States to explain the salient features of the Audit Report to the Press to make the public know about the same after the Audit Report is placed before the respective Legislative Assemblies.”

The veiled criticism by the Prime Minister of the institution of the CAG reflects the unease within the government over the recent CAG reports raising questions of serious irregularities in several deals. The example of the CAG report on the telecom spectrum policy, which gave different estimates for the notional loss to the exchequer on the 2G front, illustrates the point best.

Besides questioning the correctness of the CAG in interacting with the media, Dr. Singh raised two other issues related to the institution. The Prime Minister said the CAG had no jurisdiction to examine issues on policy matters and also contended that the supreme audit institution of the country should take into account the ‘uncertain' environment under which the government is compelled to take decisions.

“We live in a world of uncertainty and ex-post whether it is the Comptroller and Auditor-General, whether it is a parliamentary committee then they analyse post facto. They have a lot more facts which were not available to those who took the decision … We take decisions in a world of uncertainty and that's the perspective I think Parliament, our CAG and our media must adopt if this nation is to move forward.”

CAG sources declined to respond to the Prime Minister's comments. But speaking to The Hindu in the past, they rejected the allegation that the 2G report went beyond their mandate in any way.

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PM comments on CAG denotes the bankruptcy of thought on the part of the head of Govt. of the largest democracy in the world. this is not a good example to make infront of the people of the nation whom he represents....

from:  Vivek Patel
Posted on: Jul 2, 2011 at 15:09 IST

The 'Mr.Clean' title given to the PM probably needs to be modified to 'Mr.Clean-Up'.Now he has egg on his face in the matter of questioning the legality, propriety and perhaps the authority of the CAG to go public by holding a news conference on its 2G report.To add insult to injury on the public, he has the gumption and temerity to dish out the flimsiest of excuses by remarking that 'we live and take decisions in a world of uncertainty'.A man with a PhD in economics from a world renowned university is expected to reduce uncertainty to reasonable levels in all spheres of life and more particularly in the economics of a country like India.

from:  Raj Kumar
Posted on: Jul 2, 2011 at 02:05 IST

Gentlemen, SO if I understand correctly, you want the CAG and every other agaency to report back their findings through a Press meet with the Media acting as the moderator, while we as the Panchayat would receives these reports and then feels free to comment on them whichever way one feels fit. And it is quite OK to decide on national issues through a trial on media, essentially going by pronouncements made out in such Press conferences.
Gentlemen, for the sake of fairness and to define basis of opinions & decisions, it would be quite important to hear both sides of any issue. And while we are at it, reading a discussion thread would be quite pleasurable if we stop using superlatives and uncalled for descriptives, irrespective of whosover the subject matter is.

from:  Anil Nair
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 14:39 IST

OUR MMS is repeating the old song that His masters have taught His mastes are congress party president and CWC and grate jolers like kapil sibbal,chidambaram not to forget Sharad Power and kalinger ex CM Tanilnadu

from:  muralidhar
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 14:26 IST

MMS has been a silent spectator of the corruption perpertrated by his ministers, brushing it aside as decisions taken in a world of uncertainty. Corruption is not the result of uncertainty. It is a well planned initiative to loot the public funds.
It is rather unfortunate that MMS who is supposed to be an economist of repute, should go down to such abysmal depths. He is sitting pretty on a tree top overseeing the animals ( Ministers ), going about freely creating havoc in the corrupt congress jungle.

from:  Ramamurthi
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 14:08 IST

The prime minister is also corrupt. He may not take bribes in form of money or monetary goods but he is definitely taking bribe in the for of PM's chair. From his statements like Coalition Dharma and attacks on anyone who stands against corruption it seems that he has become power hungry. Corruption of any kind should not be tolerated and we should not tolerate such PMs either. Time for a change.

from:  Aman Sinha
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 13:53 IST

CAG has the authority to expose the misdeeds of Telecom ministry, Oil ministry, etc and PM should not try to supress the same by criticizing the same. Had a Lokpal been there, he could have taken over the matter from where CAG had left and booked the guilty and would have obviated the need for SC to intervene.

from:  Sundaram
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 13:47 IST

CAG was right in pointing out procedural lapses in 2G spectrum allocation. However, to question the policy decision taken by the Government to not to auction the 2G spectrum and to quantify the notional loss on the basis of auction price of 3G spectrum is taking things too far. It is like quantifying the loss of potatoes on the basis of price of apples. One should remember that the amount of Rs. 176000 crore, which the C&AG says Govt. lost by not auctioning the 2G spectrum, would have ultimately come out of our pockets. Auctioning of 2G would also have exposed Government to the charges of favouring old service providers who had been leased spectrum on a fixed Licence Fee.

from:  Sandeep Verma
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 13:39 IST

The very same Congress party had blow out of proportion a CAG comment in respect of Kargil purchase which was done by the NDA government on urgent basis. They went to the extent of even boycotting the simple and straight man George Fernandez whose integrity and honesty will be vouched even by his arch rival like Indira Gandhi. Now as their misdeeds are exposed, the Great Leader that is Mr. Manmohan Singh, finds the institution useless. What a pity.

from:  Venkatachalam P.A.
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 13:38 IST

It is stated in the CAG report that teledensity reached 18.22% in 2007 as against a target of 15 by 2010, as envisaged in NTP-1999 and reached 48% in 2010. Only licence fee is collected as 1650+ crore and there are other two % based charges on telecom companies on their revenue. So, by bringing in new players and increasing the teledensity, I would think Raja had brought more business and thus more revenue to the govt.

from:  Kumar
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 13:27 IST

Our PM saying this, is not correct.He /his ministers have lot of inteligent people to see that their decisions are correct.The CAG pointing out is normal and correct that a particular decision appears to be wrong and decisions should have been taken in so and so fashion. It is for the govt to find out and convince through parliament that the decision of the respective ministry was correct or future policy will be altered. The highest authority in the govt should not only avoid talking but refrain from such comments in public. He has another ways and means to rectify or stand to the decisions taken. If PM thinks he is right, let him amend the authority vested in CAG through passing /amending concerned regulation in parliament.

from:  Omprakas
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 13:19 IST

We have an apologetic PM . This luxury may not last long if things continue in this manner and a younger and less bashful PM takes over.

from:  Sivachander
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 13:19 IST

Why is the PM terrified of transparency ?? Does he mean to say that corrupt acts should not be made public but confined to ministers who will then decide if they need to act on it or not. I expected much better from this PM. I thought he was different from the usual run of politicians. But Lo his name leads all the rest.

from:  Mouli
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 13:17 IST

The title of the write-up is misleading!The honourable judges have Conceded the AG(Tamilnadu) brief the press on the basis of authorzation given by CAG! But while concluding,they have observed, "with pain in heart (that) the statement made by the second respondent,AG(Tamilnadu), in pursuance of the instruction given by the first respondent,giving particulars criticising the functioning of the Govt. in such a way which facilitated the opposite political parties to use the same as a weapon to attack the Govt. does not augur well.This also should have been avoided!' PM's contention has been vindicated! Secondly, 2 G spectrum Report of the CAG is a 'Performance Audit Report' which precludes auditor questioning the policy of the Govt.Hence, his observation of 'price of 2001' was ultra vires his powers!

from:  Meiyappan
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 13:11 IST

Our country is still surviving and democracy is alive because of Judiciary, Press, CAG, Election commission and few honest and principled people. Let us allow them to function freely and keep our nation in a better status.

from:  LR Sekar
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 13:04 IST

I must appreciate present CAG (Vinod Rai) and the way the reports have been shared. In the meanwhile, the stakeholders should be able give an explanation before a public debate starts. I believe the best solution is, Once all stakeholders give explanation to CAG Draft Report, the media can publish both Draft Report and and Final Report with explanation from each stakeholders.

from:  Sumant Onka
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 13:01 IST

Uncertainty is the buzzword of the UPA now (especially of the congress). Come on, there was uncertainty back in 1992 when India almost went bankrupt, there was uncertainty when the global recession hit India, how the government held on with its decisions and steered its people clear in these 'uncertain' times? but now when India is in good economic shape, often tagged as a emerging super power, the government which should be on its toes to ensure India only moves higher from here is talking about uncertainty. Clearly, this itself outlines the vested interests of the people in power.

from:  Bharath
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 12:33 IST

PM says that CAG never commented on a policy issue before. Clearly, nothing prevents them from doing so. May be they are dong it now because these 'policies' were the source of all malpractices, and are clearly intended to be a cover up. 'Policies' were mere euphemisms. If 'First come first served' is a policy & a Minister can set deadlines at his will then that policy should also be questioned. 'First come first served' is right policy in say, a restaurant, where eventually everyone will be served. But not in distributing scarce national resources.

from:  Viggie
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 12:22 IST

What uncertainty is the PM talking about? This is not about terrorism or some global international financial crisis... This is a plain subject matter of SCAM...named 2G scam that came to light because of the CAG report. Are we, citizens that naive and simple minded ?.

from:  Rakesh
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 11:49 IST

The comments of the Prime Minister on audit of accounts have damaging consequences. Let him not think that audit is confined only to Central Ministries. In many institutions like some PSU Banks, there is system of concurrent audit ( in big branches ) done by internal/external auditors; to explain, the acitivities of a branch being gone through by the auditors the very next day. Also, there is a system of management audit. Such remarks by PM of a country is indeed sad.

from:  vc sekar
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 11:47 IST

It is totally unacceptable for a PM to ignore High Court ruling.

from:  Manish Chowdhary
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 11:44 IST

The Prime Minister trips himself up on all counts. 1. The practice of issuing a press communique is in vogue for long. I have issued such communiques as an Accountant General in the Eighties of the last century. Media seldom analysed them in perspective. Moving with the Times, the AG/CAG hold Press Conference. Not to do so will be failing the People. 2. Pray! What is Policy! Do remember, ' The Sovereign may order that all the blue-eyed babies in the Realm be murdered! S/he will have to abdicate! -Sir Henry Marriott. 3. All embezzlemants take place in an 'uncertain atmosphere'!

from:  Soundararajan Srinivasa
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 11:27 IST

PM Manmohan Singh is the most corrupt and selfish person who pretends his transperency and clean character. He has destroyed the trust between people and government by cover-ups and more corruption. He should be arrested for facilitating corruption.

from:  Chandrakant Marathe
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 11:25 IST

This is exactly reveals the fact that how CAG becomes noncompetent body by stopping them in bringing facts to public by Govt.That is why Lokpal strong enough is required.CAG should not be only fact finding body but also should have authority to question and demand explanations.

from:  Mkesh Goel
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 11:25 IST

What has really amazed me is the pick n choose policy for editors with whom the PM decided to interact with . Is it a subtle message to other non-invitees to follow pro-congress stance.

from:  Sudhir Bector
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 11:18 IST

This is for Hem KW (Who has Posted comment on: Jul 1, 2011 at 07:23 IST): Internal Auditors in every ministry are not CAG's representatives. They are working under the respective Ministries. CAG is the external and independent Auditor.

from:  Bikram M.
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 11:16 IST

Our PM and his UPA Govt. is operating in an uncertain environment. But strangely he captures every heart-beats of those in the Board Rooms and at the same fails to even recognize the fact that the heart of those on the street also beats. This is the pitfall of installing a PM through the backdoor, a PM who is totally divorced from the common man on the street and fields.

from:  KVSKumar
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 11:02 IST

There is a saying in INDIA, 'Sankat kale, vipreet buddhi', means in time of trouble mind takes wrong decisions. Sorry Manmohan ji, but now it seems these line are suiting your government. Still there are lot of areas CAG is not permitted to touch like Panchayati Raj Institutions. if it is allowed to do audit in this area, i am INDIA awaits far far bigger Scandal than 2G, Commonwealth, Adarsh, Bofors, various Military Procurement, Petroleum scam(still to come).

from:  Sanjay Kumar
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 10:58 IST

Few Indian leaders have flattered to deceive the country as Dr. Man Mohan Singh. When he was anointed as the Prime Minster we looked at him with great expectation. None of us even in our wildest dream thought that he would be presiding over one of the most corrupt set up with few parallels in the world. Unfortunately with all his academic excellence he seems to living as prisoner of the past unable to has vision in the world under going digital revolution where it is no longer possible to hood wink a common man. This is the age being shaped by the internet, we have come to expect a greater level of knowledge and participation in most areas of our lives. Congress leaders see themselves as parents to a public they view as children - a public that cannot be trusted with the truth, nor with the real power that knowledge brings.
We are at a pivotal moment of history where the people of global digital age are clashing with those who are desperate to control what we ought to know.

from:  N.G. Krishnan
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 10:38 IST

A report that will be tabled in Parliament will be in the public domain. Because of the technical nature of CAG Reports not many will understand its import. The PM is being petty. He should only get upset if the report is factually incorrect. The CAG after all is carry out a statutory function without fear or favour. Otherwise the CAG will loose his creditability.

from:  P. Subramaniam
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 10:23 IST

Manmohan Singh is worried about public finding out the wrongs he and his government is doing to the country. And above all they want to keep prime minister out of Lokpal. They are preparing for the future with Rahul Gandhi, they are least concerned about todays prime minister.

from:  Sam
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 09:41 IST

NO to CAG, No to Lokpal ...I wish GOVT says NO TO CORRUPTION Also.

from:  Tilak
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 09:28 IST

These are testing times for any leader. But Dr. Manmohan Singh, has proved time and again that he is not one of that kind. If he would have admitted a single mistake of UPA 1,2 then people could still have faith in him.

from:  Srikanth
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 09:10 IST

It is obvious that Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh has made several mistakes and it is time for him to retire before the youth of India decide to enforce 'Street Justice in India.'

from:  Rengam Chandran
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 08:44 IST

What is he trying to say - "We take decisions in a world of uncertainty and that's the perspective I think Parliament, our CAG and our media must adopt if this nation is to move forward..." - Ignore corruption happening all around us and move forward...pathetic......

from:  Kumar
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 08:37 IST

While addressing the 150th anniversary of the CAG of India, the Prime Minister had declared that his government is committed to strengthening the institution of the CAG, the country's top audit body, in order to improve transparency and accountability. Of course Prime Minister had shown some courage to express his stand, despite the damage committed by him or his position while he and UPA had entangled into lot of constraints while trying not to displease the coalition partner DMK all these days, as he will be aware that the Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General Lekha in her Press meet had clarified that CAG had not given any clean chit or absolved any other connected ministries inclusive of PMO. It seems CAG had based its report on the upon the receipt of immediately available information and materials at disposal.
PM had won no new friends following the dramatized interface with media tycoons wherein he could express nothing other than his annoyance while his regime is tagged as the most corrupt.There is no deviation from the escapist game of Prime Minister and the UPA. Currently, the most ordinary People of this nation know the gravity of corruption and the reluctance of the government to co-operate with any enquiries. Congress wants to throw out CAG reports as garbage giving no chance for PAC or JPC to trail the same. The telecom scandal alone which was exposed through A.Raja and Radia tapes stands as real proof establishing the powerlessness of the P.M to contain corruption. There is every reason to believe that he is not so clean and was part of the conspiracies to the nation. He had shown all gesticulations of a corrupt politician and could easily take the strong unpleasant comments from SC bench discounting his image to the lowest level.

from:  Madan Menon Thottasseri
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 08:27 IST

In my opinion, this piece shows how the media is keen on bloating up non issues. Mr Singh's statement was "It has never been in the past that the CAG has held a press conference.". If you really study the statements, what he wanted to stress was the fact that CAG has to limit itself from commenting on policy issues (which the CAG released in a press conference). I thought 'The Hindu' was one of the very sensible newspapers, but looking at how such simple statements have been made into sensationalist headline 'Manmohan ignored ruling on CAG's rights', makes me rethink!

from:  Sudeep
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 08:01 IST

It is sad to note that we have a such a person as PM of this democratic country. Intolerance is the first enemy of Democracy. Manmohan Singh and others in his party have shown this trait in plenty of late. Are they succumbed to Indira Syndrome? I had deep respect to Singhji and his erudition and honesty. If he can't manage the post, he should come out of it and engage himself in some thing he can do best.

from:  Y J Ravindraprakash
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 07:53 IST

MMS is very poor on memory when it concerns even his own past actions and statements , it would be too much to expect of him to take cognisance of a Madras High Court ruling sometime in 2005, on CAG's mandate in explaining to the people through the Media of its findings, however, unpalatable it may sound, to the ruling dispensation. Acts of commission of anything unlawful is serious, but an act of omission by way of turning a 'blind eye' when those very eyes have the power of deterrence , is a more serious offence. MMS is gulity of the latter in all the scams which have surfaced so far and which are likely to surface in future. He can only be a part of a team, he cannot be a leader of a team if he has this 'turning a blind eye' propensity with a criminal intent , towards his reporting ministers.
MMS and Congress have themselves to blame for their current predicament, no one bothers about that, had it not been for the fact that they have severely damaged India's image abroad.

from:  K.S.Ranganathan
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 07:30 IST

Auditors are by nature simply fault finders, naysayers, sadistic by nature,who take pleasure out of objections to some xyz rules formulated and interpreted to suit to their means.Going by Auditors reporting(if it is so ,let them be part of ministry team to advice regularly, in case of so called 2G scam on some hypothetical pricing system , what was the internal auditor representative of CAG doing sleeping for years in every ministry? Is there any peer auditing among ministries? All CAG do is puncture the tyres of the economy and do the sadistic laugh in their chambers. These auditors will find faults with New Born Babies as well,to a Tall baby,will say,it's is beyong standard size & weight etc.CAG should be taken at best as critical comments for improvements. Let CAG first define its process, role, Methods, objectives.

from:  Hem KW
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 07:23 IST

If the Congress had it's way,they will abolish the CAG.The Congress will like to do away with all organisations which criticize it's activities. The 'one exam' babus do not know much and advise the PM wrongly. Our IAS has to be reorganised in order that they know all facts. Six monthly exams for them should be held. It is a sad commentary that our PM has criticised the CAG without knowing facts and he should resign for this.

from:  S N Iyer
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 06:57 IST

This is a world of uncertainty and therefore if the government leaders loot the peoples' wealth entrusted to them for safekeeping and use for peoples' welfare, it should be condoned. That, in essence, was the absurd and self-serving logic which the Prime Minister was peddling in his interaction with a group of editors last wednesday. What a shame!

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 06:50 IST

Our Constitution is based on several checks and balances. The institution of CAG is one such. And it is the duty of CAG to point out, if there are irregularities. An unprecedented loss of astronomical proportions has occurred. And probably he considered it necessary to bring it into the public domain. In these days of technology entering every area of public administration to educate and create pubic awareness, it seems odd that the PM should dwell on the propriety of CAG's press conference. The Madras High Court judgment only fortifies this layman's understanding of the Constitution and law.

from:  G.Naryanaswamy
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 06:48 IST

One more instance to show that his advisors are miserably short on facts and tragically long on tutored rhetorics.

from:  M.S.Rajasekaran
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 06:23 IST

In such a scenario one doesn't know who to believe anymore. Each one trying to outsmart the other. If higher ups are not at least factually correct, forget being morally correct, what to expect from the common man?

from:  Ashvaj
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 04:30 IST

It is beginning to appear that this snake oil saleman is the most corrupt man in India and makes drama of being a saint.

from:  John
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 04:07 IST

Is the prime minister is saying that the Government can take any decision in uncertain times, to move forward , even if its contributes to so much Scams .

from:  Ganesh Venkataraman
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 04:05 IST

The Prime Minister should be sent to a tutor to learn Indian Constitution and matter related to governance.

from:  V.M.Mohanraj
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 03:38 IST

I do not understand the world of uncertainity while dealing with corruption. One can understand the policy errors in an uncertain world but not implementation.

from:  K V Rao
Posted on: Jul 1, 2011 at 03:22 IST
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