Constitutional checks and balances

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August 28th, 2012 Tarun Chaturvedi

The CAG has done it again. Another series of reports castigating the government for its wrongdoings and causing a loss of hundreds (or maybe thousands or may be lakhs of crores) to the exchequer have been tabled in Parliament (CAG reports on allocation of coal blocks, mega power projects under special purpose vehicles and on the private public partnership project for Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport). And yes, the government has responded in its own trademark manner, by either rubbishing the findings or remaining silent. The government has always responded in this manner to anything which is not in sync with its line of thinking.

The one response that is new this time is that the CAG has exceeded its brief and is now working beyond the powers vested in it by the constitution. This is what Narayanswamy (MoS PMO) meant when he accused the CAG of “exceeding his mandate”.  This is not a matter of joke and such a comment should not be taken lightly in any democracy. CAG is one of the few independent institutions deriving strength from the constitution - not from the government and any comment questioning the limits within which it can perform its duties is surely an attack on democracy.

This response is in line with the Government’s stand on judicial overreach which it is trying to counter by introducing the judicial accountability bill. What perplexes the mind is that is this government trying to champion the cause of independent constitutional authorities which form the bedrock of democracy or it is fast trying to bring all such institutions under its the control? In all probability, it is the latter which is the main intention of the government. If the government succeeds in this effort, it is going to be a disaster for the long-term survival of the democracy.

The constitution of India has developed a system of checks and balances to ensure the smooth functioning of the democracy. The CAG and the judiciary are two important constituents of these checks and balances. By lambasting them in public and trying to bring in laws to curb their work areas, the government is doing the nation a huge disservice. The ruling UPA should realise that the nation will not come to an end in 2014 (when it faces the electorate) and so should not try to respond to serious issues like scams etc. by undermining the authority and functioning of the independent authorities.

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One Response to “Constitutional checks and balances”

  1. S Anbalagan Says:

    The speech given by Chief Justice of India couple of days back is the appropriate answer to the views expressed against the Government herein; All the organs like Judiciary, Executive & Parliament must confine & restrict themselves within the constitutional parameters. If anybody crosses its boundary and is trying to impose its own philosophy as a report or judgement, these kinds of contradictions are being witnessed. The CJI gave a classic example of quoting one recent SC judgement, which said ‘Sleeping is the fundamental right’. The CJI did a commendable introspection in his speech. He advised his fellow Judges to be cautious and not to cross the Constitutional provisions. Likewise, the CAG must also understand that he is not empowered to do any ‘Revenue Audit’ under the Constitution. He can do only ‘Social Audit’ & ‘Expenditure Audit’. the Hon’ble Minister was right in pointing out that the CAG has exceeded its mandate. The CAG should confine its role to the parameters given in the Constitution and should not indule in such kinds of calculating phenomenal ‘notional loss’, thereby creating political storm in the Country and putting hurdles to the India’s growth.

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