By Bhavini Srivastava
On September 25th, 2017, President Ram Nath Kovind appointed the 13th Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India. Former Home Secretary for two terms and a 1978-batch IAS officer from Rajasthan, 62-year-old Rajiv Mehrishi was administered an oath of office and secrecy by the President, as a formal mark of his taking charge as a CAG. The term of office is 6 years or until 65 years of age, whichever occurs earlier, which means that Mr Mehrishi will hold the office for 3 years.
His experiences and qualifications
Before being the Home Secretary, he had worked as the Economic Affairs Secretary and the Chief Secretary of Rajasthan. He held key positions as the Finance Secretary, Secretary (Fertilisers), and Secretary (Overseas Indian Affairs) of the Government of India. Mr Mehrishi is the Chair of the United Nations Board of Auditors. He plays an important role in the affairs of the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions and is also a member of the Governing Board of Asian Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions.
His educational qualifications are impressive, as well. He holds a Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in History, from St. Stephen’s Delhi. He further went on to do a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.
Roles and responsibilities of a CAG
The CAG is the guardian or the caretaker of the national purse. Dr B.R. Ambedkar stated that the CAG shall be the most important officer under the Constitution of India. He enjoys the rank of a Secretary to the government of India. In order to safeguard his position, it has been provided that the CAG, though appointed by the warrant and seal of the President, shall not be held at the President’s pleasure. Further, the CAG is bestowed with the privileges of a Supreme Court Judge, since he can only be removed from office through the process of impeachment. Moreover, he draws the same salary as a Supreme Court Judge.
He is entrusted with the responsibility of auditing the central and state government’s accounts. The annual report of these accounts is submitted to the President or Governor, who presents it to the parliament or the legislatures of the states. The parliament enacted the CAG’s (Duties, Powers and Conditions of Service) Act, 1971, which lays down the duties of the CAG. From 1976, he has been relieved from preparing the accounts of the Government.
According to an article by ‘The Wire’, a demand has been made by the exiting CAG, that all defence-related reports should be re-examined by a special team of competent officers, along with the final Audit Report on the Aircel-Maxis matter, which has been pending since January 2015 and kept in a “suspended animation”.
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