New Delhi: Politics over its critical
reports on scams echoed in the 150th anniversary celebrations
of the CAG on Wednesday when BJP leader and PAC Chairman Murli
Manohar Joshi praised Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee for
defending both the CAG and the PAC when they came under
"At a time when democratic institutions are under attack
and several scams have come to light, it is heartening that
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has come out in support of
the institutions," he said.
Joshi was speaking at the valedictory function of the 150
years of the institution of Comptroller and Auditor General of
India. Mukherjee and CAG Vinod Rai, however, steered clear of
political issues in their speeches.
The BJP veteran referred to Mukherjee`s speech at the ADB
annual meeting at Hanoi which he made this year in which he
had said that Indian governance system is fortified with
strong checks and balances through institutions such as the
PAC and CAG and said "such clear statements really go a long
way in infusing confidence in these institutions".
"I congratulate the Finance Minister for your support and
believe that you will continue to support these institutions.
They are highly dependent on you for the principle of
transparency," he said.
Joshi also said it was unfortunate that quite recently,
faced with CAG`s critical observations in his reports, a
section of the press and even some parliamentarians have tried
to whittle down the credibility of the institution of the CAG.
"While parliamentarians in India, by and large, have
always accorded due regard and respect to the CAG and his
officers, however, sometimes unable to stomach fair critical
comments in the CAG report, ministers have reacted in an
unsavoury manner," Joshi said.
He recalled that when the then Defence Minister Krishna
Menon had made certain derogatory remarks about the CAG in Lok
Sabha in 1960, the then Speaker the late M Ananthasayanam
Ayyangar had ruled that CAG is an independent authority whose
conduct cannot be "impeached in this manner" however strong
the language that might have been used by the auditor.
In his speech, Mukherjee said in a world of growing
complexities and uncertainties, the possibility of
institutional failures, oversight and ignorance impacting the
decision making process cannot be ruled out.
Institutions and individuals, who have the benefit of
hindsight, while reviewing the work of others can provide
invaluable guidance in improvement of processes to improve
decision making and attain greater efficiency, he said.
"We should all be cautious in determining malafide intent
as distinct from bonafide errors of judgement or divergent
opinions on policy options," the Finance Minister said.
Asserting that the government was fully committed the
virus of corruption from the system, he said corruption is a
many headed hydra.
Many of its causes were rooted in the colonial legacy of
the administration and the excessive government controls over
planned economic activity.
"None of us should hesitate in exposing misdemeanour and
corrupt practices. But then we should not shy away from
reporting the good news as well," he said appreciating the
professionalism and integrity of the officials of the audit
and accounts officials in discharging their constitutional
In his speech, CAG Vinod Rai said that the institution of
CAG over the years has functioned faithfully in accordance
with what has been set out by the framers of the Constitution
and he was proud and privileged to head it.
"The department comprises the best professionals who have
withstood the most intense scrutiny over the years...their
track record has been impeccable. History speaks of repeated
attempts to weaken the edifice but the department has stood
tall," he said to a thunderous applause of the auditors.
Rai said the institution would remain a key pillar of
India`s vibrant democracy and respond to the needs of the time
in the future and the common man will draw greater assurance
from its work.
Recalling President Pratibha Patil`s address to the
Governors` conference recently in which she talked about
public sentiment being against corruption on the rise in
public life, he said the institution of CAG is fully committed
to ensuring public financial accountability and squarely
addressing the issues raised by the President.
The CAG said the role of the institution in the coming
years and decades would be shaped by the developments in the
polity, the priorities of the stakeholders and the
increasingly robust views of the public expressed through new
and ever changing idioms.