Full Text: 60 ex-bureaucrats turn up the heat on CAG over 'unconscionable delay' in audit reports of Rafale, demonetisation

FP Staff
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As many as 60 former bureaucrats have written to the Comptroller Auditor General of India urging the public funds' watchdog to make its report on Rafale deal and demonetisation public. 

In an open letter, which was also copied to the President of India, the retired officers expressed their concern on the delay by CAG in dispensing its constitutional duties. The bureaucrats claimed that the CAG had been accused of "nit-picking and focusing on trivial issues on the one hand, and for audit over-reach on the other", but never for having the need to be reminded of its constitutional duties, or of working under any pressure from the government of the day. 

The letter released to the media by former director general, YASHADA, Government of Maharashtra, Ramani Venkatesan, also highlighted unconscionable and unwarranted delay in bringing out the audit reports on Demonetisation (November 2016) and the Rafale deal (April 2015). 

Here is the full text of the letter.

We are a group of former civil servants of the All India and Central Services, who have worked for decades with the Central and State Governments during our careers. We wish to make it clear that, as a group, we have no affiliation with any political party but believe in impartiality, neutrality and commitment to the Constitution of India. We are committed to protecting, preserving and promoting the independence and integrity of the various Constitutional and statutory institutions in India.

During the debates in the Constituent Assembly, Dr BR Ambedkar had described the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) as the most important functionary in the Constitution, more important than even the Judiciary. Rightly so, because the CAG functions as a watchdog of the public purse, and it is his duty to ensure that every financial transaction is as per rule, sanction, provision and propriety, and guided by the principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. Articles 148 €" 151 of the Constitution of India read with the CAG's (Duties, Powers and Conditions of Service) Act, 1971, ensure his complete independence from the Executive.

We wish to bring to the CAG's notice our concern about what seems to be unconscionable and unwarranted delay in bringing out the audit reports on Demonetisation (November 2016) and the Rafale deal (April 2015). A news item in The Hindu dated March 3, 2017, titled "CAG to undertake audit of demonetisation fallout" quoted the previous CAG as saying that the CAG was well within its rights to seek audit of the fiscal impact of demonetisation, especially its impact on tax revenues. He had pointed out that the audit would also cover the expenditure on printing of notes, RBI's dividend to the Consolidated Fund of India, the huge amount of data generated by banks, and the effectiveness of the follow-up action taken by the Income Tax Department in identifying potential tax evaders and pursuing action against them, and so on. It is more than 20 months since the previous CAG made the above statement but there is no sight of the promised audit report on Demonetisation.

Equally conspicuous is the delay in presenting the CAG's audit report on the Rafale deal, even though 42 months have elapsed since the deal was announced in April 2015. A news item in The Times of India dated July 24, 2018 titled "Rs.59000 crore Rafale deal: CAG's audit report misses deadline" stated that the report was still in the draft stage and "may be finalised not before the Winter session in December". Another news item in "The Indian Express" dated September 19, 2018 titled "Rafale deal: Congress delegation meets CAG, demands report on 'irregularities'" stated that the CAG had assured the delegation that he was "already examining all aspects of the deal". But another news item published in "Business Today" dated 23.9.2018 titled "No question of scrapping Rafale deal, will wait for CAG report, says Arun Jaitley" quoted the Finance Minister as saying that it was for the CAG to examine whether the planes were bought at a higher price or not and that "all these facts and figures will be placed before CAG for consideration". It would appear from his statement that as late as September 2018, the related files were yet to be scrutinised by the CAG. The precise stage of the audit is therefore unclear.

The CAG's audit reports on the 2G scam, Coal scam, Adarsh scam, Commonwealth Games scam, etc., which influenced public perception of the then government's actions, had invited appreciation from various quarters. But an impression is gaining ground that the CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on Demonetisation and the Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government. The CAG's failure to present the audit reports on Demonetisation and the Rafale deal in time may be seen as a partisan action and may create a crisis of credibility for this important institution. Due to the cacophony of claims and counterclaims, accusations and mudslinging in the media and elsewhere, the citizens do not know what the reality is. We believe that citizens have a right to insist upon the timely submission of audit reports by the CAG so that they can make an informed choice while voting.

In the past, the CAG has been criticised for nit-picking and focusing on trivial issues on the one hand, and for audit over-reach on the other. But there was never any occasion to accuse the CAG of being influenced by the Government of India or having to remind it about the timely performance of its Constitutional duties. While we are confident that the CAG will continue the tradition set by the past incumbents of this office, we urge it to complete the audit of both Demonetisation and the Rafale deal and submit the audit reports without any further delay so that they can be tabled by the Government of India in the Winter session of Parliament in December 2018.

(A copy of this letter is also being sent to the President of India)


1. S.P. Ambrose, IAS (Retd.), Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, GoI

2. N. Bala Baskar, IAS (Retd.), Former Principal Adviser (Finance), Ministry of External Affairs, GoI

3. G. Balachandhran, IAS (Retd.), Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

4. Gopalan Balagopal, IAS (Retd.), Former Special Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

5. C. Balakrishnan, IAS (Retd.), Former Secretary, Coal, GoI

6. Meeran C Borwankar, IPS (Retd.), Former DGP, Bureau of Police Research and Development, GoI

7. Sundar Burra, IAS (Retd.), Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra

8. Kalyani Chaudhuri, IAS (Retd.), Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

9. Surjit K. Das, IAS (Retd.), Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Uttarakhand

10. Vibha Puri Das, IAS (Retd.), Former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI

11. Nareshwar Dayal, IFS (Retd.), Former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs and former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom

12. Pradeep K. Deb, IAS (Retd.), Former Secretary, Department of Sports, GoI

13. Keshav Desiraju, IAS (Retd.), Former Health Secretary, GoI

14. M.G. Devasahayam, IAS (Retd.), Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana

15. Sushil Dubey, IFS (Retd.), Former Ambassador to Sweden

16. K.P. Fabian, IFS (Retd.), Former Ambassador to Italy

17. Arif Ghauri, former Commissioner of Income Tax, GoI

18. Tuktuk Ghosh, IAS (Retd.), Former Special Secretary and Financial Adviser, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping & Tourism, GoI

19. Meena Gupta, IAS (Retd.), Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI

20. Ravi Vira Gupta, IAS (Retd.), Former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India

21. Deepa Hari, IRS (Resigned)

22. Sajjad Hassan, IAS (Retd.), Former Commissioner (Planning), Govt. of Manipur

23. Dr. M.A. Ibrahimi, IAS (Retd.), Former Chief Secretary (rank), Govt. of Bihar

24. Kamal Jaswal, IAS (Retd.), Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI

25. Jagdish Joshi, IAS (Retd.), Former Additional Chief Secretary (Planning), Govt. of Maharashtra

26. K. John Koshy, IAS (Retd.), Former State Chief Information Commissioner, West Bengal

27. Brijesh Kumar, IAS (Retd.), Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI

28. P.M.S. Malik, IFS (Retd.), Former Ambassador to Myanmar & Special Secretary, MEA, GoI

29. Harsh Mander, IAS (Retd.), Govt. of Madhya Pradesh

30. Aditi Mehta, IAS (Retd.), Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan

31. Sonalini Mirchandani, IFS (Resigned)

32. Noor Mohammad, IAS (Retd.), Former Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority, GoI

33. Deb Mukharji, IFS (Retd.), Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and former Ambassador to Nepal

34. Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, IFS (Retd.), Former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom

35. Nagalswamy, IA&AS (Retd.), Former Principal Accountant General, Tamil Nadu & Kerala, GoI

36. Sobha Nambisan, IAS (Retd.), Former Principal Secretary (Planning), Govt. of Karnataka

37. Surendra Nath, IAS (Retd.), Former Member, Finance Commission, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh

38. Amitabha Pande, IAS (Retd.), Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI

39. T.R. Raghunandan, IAS (Retd.), Former Joint Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, GoI

40. N.K. Raghupathy, IAS (Retd.), Former Chairman, Staff Selection Commission, GoI

41. J.P. Rai, IAS (Retd.), Former Director General, National Skills Development Agency, GoI

42. V.P. Raja, IAS (Retd.), Former Chairman, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission

43. C. Babu Rajeev, IAS (Retd.), Former Secretary, GoI

44. M.Y. Rao, IAS (Retd.)

45. Prasadranjan Ray, IAS (Retd.), Former Chairperson, West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission

46. J.F. Ribeiro, IPS (Retd.), Former Adviser to Governor of Punjab & former Ambassador to Romania

47. Aruna Roy, IAS (Resigned)

48. Manabendra N. Roy, IAS (Retd.), Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

49. Deepak Sanan, IAS (Retd.), Former Principal Adviser (AR) to Chief Minister, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh

50. N.C. Saxena, IAS (Retd.), Former Secretary, Planning Commission, GoI

51. Ardhendu Sen, IAS (Retd.), Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

52. Abhijit Sengupta, IAS (Retd.), Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI

53. Aftab Seth, IFS (Retd.), Former Ambassador to Japan

54. Ashok Kumar Sharma, IFS (Retd.), Former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia

55. Raju Sharma, IAS (Retd.), Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh

56. K. Ashok Vardhan Shetty, IAS (Retd.), Former Vice Chancellor, Indian Maritime University, GoI

57. Jawhar Sircar, IAS (Retd.), Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI, & former CEO, Prasar Bharati

58. P.S.S. Thomas, IAS (Retd.), Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission

59. Hindal Tyabji, IAS (Retd.), Former Chief Secretary rank, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir

60. Ramani Venkatesan, IAS (Retd.), Former Director General, YASHADA, Govt. of Maharashtra

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