Tag: comptroller and auditor general

CAG and constitution

It is strange that former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) V. K. Shunglu suggested that CAG be made a multi-member body. Narayanasamy, MoS in PMO said the government is actively considering it and later retracted.

V. K. Shunglu had submitted six reports on Commonwealth Games. The government implemented first report which was against B. S. Lalli. Other reports which were against Sheila Dikshit and others were not implemented.

About CAG, V. K. Shunglu had suggested that a three-member body would obtain greater transparency in operation. Was there not enough transparency when Shunglu was CAG?

Former CEC S. Y. Quraishi said CAG will become more powerful if it has more than one member. The fact is additional members are appointed to make Election Commission fall in line with government. One CEC had problem with Navin Kohli who was then Election Commissioner. The CEC did not want Navin Kohli to succeed him as CED but UPA government appointed him as CEC.

The constitution provides for CAG as one person and Election Commission as a body headed by CEC. Articles 148-151 deal with CAG, duties and powers, accounts, and audit reports. Article 148 is clear that CAG is one person. There is no provision for multi-member CAG.

Article 324 deals with Election Commission. It states, among other things, “The Election Commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner and such number of other Election Commissioners, if any, as the President may from time to time fix…” CEC is enough. ECs are optional. For a long time India had only CEC. In 1989 Rajiv Gandhi government appointed two ECs. Rajiv Gandhi was unhappy with R. V. S. Peri Sastry. When V. P. Singh government came to power they removed the two ECs. When T. N. Seshan became CEC he took decisions that favoured Congress. Janata Dal wanted his removal. P. V. Narasimha Rao promised that but did not keep his promise. Later T. N. Seshan became a problem for Congress. Then Congress government appointed two ECs. As the governments changed they continued with Election Commission as a three-member body. They promoted ECs as CECs and brought as ECs people who thought were suitable for them. Sometimes the calculations went wrong.

UPA is unhappy with Vinod Rai as CAG. Previous CAGs were quiet. Vinod Rai said the brazenness with which the decisions are taken is appalling. Amending the constitution to curb CAG’s powers is not easy for UPA. CAG is a constitutional functionary. There is no bar on him holding press conferences, giving interviews, blogging, or tweeting.

Impeachment and Removal

Nowadays there has been lot of talk impeachment of Justice Soumitra Sen. It is wrong to talk of impeachment of a High Court Judge. A High Court Judge is removed, not impeached.

The constitution of India provides for the impeachment of President and removal of Vice President, Deputy Chairman of the Council of States (Rajya Sabha), Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of the People (Lok Sabha), Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Chief Election Commissioner, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Legislative Assembly, Chairman and Deputy Chairman of Legislative Council, Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts and members of Public Service Commissions. Attorney General and Governors hold office during the pleasure of the President. Advocate General holds office during the pleasure of the Governor.

Only the President can be impeached, others can be removed or dismissed.

Soumitra Sen would have been the first judge to be removed by Parliament. Rajya Sabha had voted for his removal. After a few days he resigned. There was difference of opinion on whether the process of removal should continue. His first resignation was rejected as it was conditional. The President accepted his second resignation. The Speaker of Lok Sabha held an all-party meeting and decided not to proceed with the process of removal. May be Soumitra Sen would have lost his pension if he had been removed and not resigned.