CAG report commands respect and cannot be brushed aside but it cannot be the final word on an issue, the Supreme Court said on Thursday while noting that the auditor’s findings cannot be gospel truth as it is subject to scrutiny by Parliament.
A bench of justices KS Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra said that CAG’s report is always subject to parliamentary debates and it is possible that Public Accounts Committee (PAC) can accept the objection to the report or reject it.
“The CAG’s report is always subject to parliamentary debates and it is possible that PAC can accept the ministry’s objection to the CAG report or reject the report of the CAG. The CAG, indisputably is an independent constitutional functionary. However, it is for Parliament to decide whether after receiving the report to make its comments on it,” according to the court.
The bench made the observations while rejecting CAG views on Cairn-Vedanta deal, saying that “it is factually and legally incorrect and cannot be accepted”.
The bench analysed various provisions pertaining to CAG functioning and said, “We have come across several instances where considerable reliance has been placed on the CAG report projecting it as gospel truth”.
The court’s remarks assumes significance in the wake of the recent controversy over CAG’s figure of the estimated loss to public exchequer due to coal blocks and 2G spectrum allocation scams.
“We have referred to the report of the CAG, the role of the PAC and the procedure followed in the House, only to indicate that the CAG report is always subject to scrutiny by Parliament and Government can always offer its views on the report of the CAG,” the bench said.
“We may, however, point out that since the report is from a constitutional functionary, it commands respect and cannot be brushed aside as such, but it is equally important to examine the comments what respective ministries have to offer on the CAG’s report.
“The ministry can always point out, if there is any mistake in the CAG?s report or the CAG has inappropriately appreciated various issues,” the bench said.