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The significance of an independent, efficient and comprehensive auditing of all the financial affairs of the government for an effective financial administration need not be emphasized yet the nature, scope and functional orientation of ‘ auditing’ deserves a serious attention of all stakeholders. The office of CAG like any other institution is equally susceptible to the changing environmental conditions which demand a creative expansion or orientation of its functional profile within the broader jurisdictional domain ordained by the Constitution so that it could accomplish its ultimate objective effectively.

It is to be noted that over the years other constitutional bodies like Election Commission, Finance commission, honorable Supreme court and others have aggressively developed their ‘ancillary’ jurisdictional domain so that they could make a more purposeful and decisive intervention in furtherance of public interest and we have not seen any counteractive effervescence in political circle.

When courts can summon District magistrate and S.P.on account of failure to check the cultivation of vegetables in an area of contaminated water; when the ‘Finance Commission’, ‘the balancing wheel of fiscal federalism’ can recommend the ‘overhauling’ of entire judicial system to mention a few, why can not the office of CAG be allowed to stretch its conventional legal audit or compliance audit to a more purposeful domain of propriety and performance audit?

Any direct or indirect attempt on the part of the government to restrict the jurisdictional boundary of CAG would not only run contrary to the spirit of the constitution and democracy but would also be a regressive move in the context of overall financial administration, its credibility and efficacy. It would be wrong to interpret the constitutional provisions literally to restrict the dynamic exercise of juristional authority by the institutions which is implicitly allowed in most of the progressive Constitution and is extremely crucial to accomplish the goals effectively in a constantly changing dynamics of economy, society and polity.

How can it be logical to compel CAG in the name of constitutional uprightness to apply those techniques, principles and methodology of auditing which have evolved over the years witnessing a paradigmatic shift in the content and context of Indian economy ( from a socialist model to a largely capitalist model) particularly against the backdrop of globalizing world ?

Conversely, the need of the hour is to redefine the operational jurisdiction of CAG in sync with the challenges confronting the enforcement of financial accountability in a market based economy. In fact, the intricacies of institutional pluralism and frequently sought ‘public private’ collaboration demands expansion (selectively in the realm of private entities) rather than restriction of CAG’s jurisdiction.

Director, IIIASA