Comptroller and Auditor General: India

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Defence reports

2016, 2017: CAG stops putting them online

Pradeep Thakur, Why CAG stopped putting defence reports online, December 19, 2018: The Times of India


Some Reports ‘Censored’ Last Year On Def Ministry Request

The federal auditor’s much awaited report on the Rs 59,000 crore Rafale deal, when it comes, is unlikely to be available online as the auditor had instructed its officers last year to desist from the normal practice of uploading defence reports on its website for public consumption.

Seven defence reports were submitted in Parliament since October 2017, five in the last monsoon session, but none of these are available on the auditor’s website, unlike CAG reports on other subjects. All CAG reports, however, must be submitted to Parliament and so are public documents. The unavailability of the online version will restrict their access. The CAG is yet to finalise its report on the Rafale deal, a inter-governmental agreement signed with France in 2016 to acquire 36 fighters in flyaway condition to boost India’s defence against China and Pakistan.

The auditor is likely to present a comprehensive report on all recent defence acquisitions rather than a standalone report on Rafale, sources said. The observations on Rafale will be summarised into a chapter, they added. The CAG is yet to hold exit conference with the defence ministry, a mandatory procedure before the report is finalised. The process will be completed some time in January.

Around October last year, the auditor had issued an internal directive to its defence wing to remove a few paragraphs from some of its past reports and remove all references available online, including press releases issued on the subject. Simultaneously, no new reports on defence were uploaded on its website.

The deleted paragraphs were from audit reports on India-China border roads, ammunition management, functioning of Army Aviation Corps and shortfall in availability of BMP (infantry armoured) vehicles in the Army.

A CAG officer had then told TOI these reports were taken down at the “request of the defence ministry, owing to their sensitivity”. Among the reports pulled down from the CAG website was a performance audit relating to Indo-China border roads. The report was tabled in Parliament in March 2017 and was widely reported after the federal auditor said at least six roads (197 km), out of the ones examined by the CAG, were not fit to run specialised vehicles.

The deleted paragraphs were from audit reports on India-China border roads, ammunition management, functioning of Army Aviation Corps and shortfall in availability of BMP vehicles in the Army

Pending cases

2016

The Times of India, Sep 07 2016

Pradeep Thakur & Rajeev Deshpande

Bofors report PAC's oldest `pending' file

Some 27 years after the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) politically explosive report on the Bofors gun purchase indicted the Rajiv Gandhi government and set the stage for a famous opposition victory in 1989, it remains the oldest “pending“ report with the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The scandal over kickbacks in the deal continues to await closure as the defence ministry is yet to submit its `action taken notes (ATNs)' on the national auditor censuring the cost of the Swedish artillery gun and the manner in which its competitors were disadvantanged.

The PAC is Parliament's oversight mechanism to keep a check on all government expenditure and is assisted by the CAG through its audit reports. Innocuously titled `report mber 2 on the contracts with number 2 on the contracts with Bofors for purchase and licence prodcuction of 155 mm gun system and counter trade', the CAG's report is still hanging fire, a PAC sub-committee led by BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab found. The final audit comments were finalised in 2009, a decade after the Bofors report was prepared and around the time UPA-2 assumed office.

The Bofors report was part of more than 800 ATNs pending with several ministries as of July 31, 2016, a PAC report said. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) leads all departments with the highest number of 198 pending ATNs, followed by the defence ministry with 163 and the railways with 100.

Apart from India's first defence scandal that claimed a government, more recent scams examined by the CAG such as procurement of Tatra trucks and the Adarsh housing society scandal remain stuck in the innards of the defence ministry awaiting ATNs.

The CAG's Kargil war report of 2001, a review of procurement during Operation Vijay, is also pending with the PAC. The auditor had raised points of financial impropriety in defence contracts worth over Rs 2,000 crore.

The CBDT has failed to file at least 198 ATNs and most of them relate to incorrect allowance of business expenditure to builders, developers and prominent business houses resulting in loss to the exchequer.

The PAC had taken up for review several CAG reports pointing out substandard work in laying of lines and in land acquisition among others.

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