The government is considering a proposal to make the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) a multimember body, a move that has come under sharp criticism from the Opposition and civil society.
“It [Shunglu panel’s suggestion to make changes in the CAG] is under active consideration,” Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office V. Narayanasamy told PTI in an interview.
The Minister was replying to a question about a suggestion made by the former CAG, V.K. Shunglu, that CAG be made a multi-member body. Mr. Narayanasamy sought to retract his comment, but PTI stands by its story.
Mr. Shunglu had suggested that a three-member body would ensure greater transparency in CAG’s operation. One member should possess professional accounting qualifications — a chartered accountant or its equivalent.
Mr. Narayanasamy also said that CAG had become “more impatient” and he [Vinod Rai] wanted all constitutional bodies to work within their parameters.
Reacting to Mr. Narayanasamy’s remarks, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha attacked the proposal for a multimember CAG as a “very bad idea” and also “unconstitutional.”
“It is not EC”
Making a distinction between the Election Commission and CAG, he said the official auditor cannot be treated like a commission and made a multimember body. “It’s a very, very bad idea. And I agree it is in order to muzzle the present incumbent and weaken the institution. They are out to destroy the institution of CAG,” Mr. Sinha said.
Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy said the government was trying to dilute the authority and curtail autonomy of CAG because of its reports.
Civil society activist Kiran Bedi said: “I think it is the government versus embarrassment which it has faced because of the remarkable work done by CAG so far.
“The CAG has done outstanding work. It is because of CAG that the scams got exposed.”
The former Central Vigilance Commissioner, N. Vittal, said the government’s move would weaken constitutional bodies.
However, the former Chief Election Commissioner, S.Y. Quraishi, said CAG would become more powerful if it had more than one member. “I won’t comment on [its] timing, but making CAG a multi-member body would be better,” he said, citing the long experience of a multimember Election Commission.