More Embarrassment for Modi Govt: No Precedent of ‘Redacted Version’ of CAG Report Being Placed in Public Domain, Claim Experts
"There is no such thing under the law, under the Constitution,” said former Secretary General of Lok Sabha P D T Achary.
Dismissing the petitions for court-monitored probe into the Rafale deal, the Supreme Court wrote in paragraph 25 of its judgement, “The pricing details have, however, been shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General (hereinafter referred to as “CAG”), and the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee (hereafter referred to as “PAC”). Only a redacted portion of the report was placed before the Parliament, and is in public domain. ”
After public uproar over there being no such CAG report in the public domain nor the PAC examining it, the government submitted an application before the Supreme Court to ‘correct’ this. Per reports, the government told the court that it had submitted a ‘statement of the process’ in the sealed cover. That the report of the CAG is examined by the PAC and “only a redacted version of the report is placed before the Parliament and in public domain”.
However, speaking to The Indian Express, numerous experts, including retired CAG officials, have pointed to a major hole in the government’s clarification — there is no precedent of a ‘redacted version’ of a CAG report being put in the public domain.
Former Secretary General of Lok Sabha P D T Achary told IE, “There is no provision for any redaction of a CAG report, nor is there a precedent. There is no such thing under the law, under the Constitution.”
He added, “Whatever reports are there from the CAG, they are submitted to Parliament and go to the PAC. Finance Minister lays them on the table of the house. PAC is assisted by the CAG; in fact, CAG can be said to be a part of the PAC setup.”
Another former Secretary General of the Lok Sabha told IE on the condition of anonymity, “Redaction has not happened so far, the word is new to the system. Maybe you can have redactions in the future.”
Speaking to IE, Former Deputy CAG, Dr B P Mathur also reiterated this position, “I have never heard the term (redaction) before. There is only one CAG report which is prepared after due diligence by the auditors, vetted by Deputy CAG and approved personally by the CAG. Once it is presented to Parliament, it is a public document.”
He added, “a draft CAG Report, which is secret and not for public consumption, is shared with the government and the replies of the government are accommodated at that stage in the final report. In many final reports, name of countries or types of weapon systems or make of weapons or quantity are masked for reasons of national security before it is sent to Parliament.”
Speaking to IE, a recently retired CAG said on condition of anonymity that any masking is done well before the report entering the public domain, and that any such masked portions are shared with the PAC in confidence.