Independent appointed PAC chair, without an election

In the unilateral appointment of the lone lndependent Member in the Legislative Assembly V. M C. Sivakumar and DMK member A.M.H Nazeem as Chairman of Public Accounts Committee and Estimates Committee respectively, the ruling N R Congress continued with the method followed by the previous governments in the Union Territory thereby violating well laid out procedures prescribed in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Puducherry Legislative Assembly, 1986 in filling up these posts.

The rule mandates that both these committees consisting 12 members have to “be elected by the House every year from amongst its members according to the principle of proportional representation by means of the single transferable votes.” The Chairman of the Committees should be elected from the members, the rule prescribes.

However, successive governments in the last two decades have violated the rule and the present government is no exception with the Speaker Sabapathy making an announcement regarding the appointment before winding up the one-day session of the Assembly on November 2.

The local unit of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had criticised the way the posts have been filled by the ruling government. It had also flayed the government for appointing Mr. Sivakumar as the Chairman when he holds the same post in Pondicherry Distilleries Limited.

Obviously there would be conflict of interest, an official in the Legislative Assembly Secretariat said, adding if in case the Comptroller and Auditor General points out some sort of mismanagement or irregularity in the functioning of Pondicherry Distilleries Limited by the Public Accounts Committee, the role of Chairman in examining the report would be questionable.

With the appointments being made it now remains to be seen the way the committee takes shape and functions as the past records gives a bleak picture. Though Committees were formed, the PAC has not been convened for the last five years to examine the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor-General for the Union Territory. The last time the PAC did a scrutiny and submitted its findings of a CAG report was for 2003-04.

As per the rules, the PAC has “to scrutinise the Appropriation Accounts of the Union Territory and the report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India.” It is the duty of the PAC to satisfy that “the money shown in the accounts as having disbursed were legally available for and applicable to the service or purpose to which they have been applied or charged…”

Further, it is the duty of PAC that “the expenditure conforms to the authority which governs and that every re-appropriation has been made in accordance with such rules as may be prescribed by the competent authority.”