STOP THE SLANGING MATCH

A few institutions are under serious attack and if steps are not taken to correct the situation, the country will have to pay a very heavy price in the years to come. The first one is the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). Article 148 of the Constitution provides for the appointment of the CAG and he can be removed only by the same process as applicable to a Supreme Court Judge. That shows that his importance is that of a Supreme Court Judge. He cannot be removed. His findings are independent of the Government, of everybody, and the reports are given to the President who ensures they are placed in Parliament. Now, because the present Government finds the CAG’s findings uncomfortable, they have let loose all their Ministers to mock at the CAG, to abuse the CAG, to challenge the CAG, to start debating with the CAG. It is like a batsman who finds the bowling very rough and when he can’t face the bowlers, he starts fighting with the umpire. CAG is only an umpire. Whether you like his findings or not, you have to take them. You answer the Parliament, you answer the Opposition but you don’t start fighting with the CAG. In any case, you can’t remove him. By diluting that office, you are doing permanent damage to the Constitution and the country. Manmohan Singh is a seasoned, mature person. I am sure he must be feeling very uncomfortable at this tirade by his Ministers. I know he may not be able to control these Ministers because they take direct orders from 10 Janpath. But as a Prime Minister of the country, he has a duty to bring propriety into this entire procedure and stop this slanging match. One R. P. Singh who was working in the CAG’s office has gone to the press giving some details of how the reports were made. It is like the Supreme Court Judge’s stenographer giving some information on how the Judge made up his mind. They have no authority. CAG is a post created under article 148. There are hundreds of employees working under him and R.P. Singh has no locus standi whatsoever. The Government is full of such idiots like R. P. Singh who should be ignored. I am shocked that the press has given him so much importance and of course the Congress party has swallowed the bait and jumped as if they have found some great inner information. They don’t know the damage they are doing to the system.
The second institution under attack is the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The Public Accounts Committee is not appointed by the Government. It consists of 22 members. Fifteen members are appointed by the Lok Sabha from among its members and 7 members are elected by the Rajya Sabha from among its members. Once these 22 members are elected, the list goes to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha who nominates one of them as a Chairman. It is a convention that one of the Opposition members is appointed as the Chairman but that is only a convention. The Chairman is an appointee of the Speaker. Now again because it does not suit the ruling party it has started a debate with the current Chairman, Murli Manohar Joshi. He is not answerable to the Congress party or to the Government or to the MP’s. Murli Manohar Joshi is answerable only to the Speaker. I don’t know why he is coming on TV and answering. If Congress people have any complaint that the Chairman of the PAC is not discharging his functions properly, they should write to the Speaker. If the Speaker feels that there is some material in this, she will speak to the Chairman. Otherwise the PAC is a mini Parliament. An insult to the PAC is an insult to Parliament. In fact the statements by some of the Ministers amount to contempt of Parliament, amount to contempt of Parliament, breach of privilege and they can go to jail for it. Indira Gandhi had to go to jail for an insult to Parliament which is much less than this. But today the tragedy is that the present Government is in stupor. They are taking pride that all institutions have been damaged and discarded. A day will soon come when people will stop having faith in Parliament. Then this whole system will be in tatters. Then what will happen? They don’t realise that it nobody invites the army to take over the country by sending a cordial invitation. This is an invitation to the army. This is what happened in our neighbouring countries when they diluted their own system and the army thought the time is right for them to intervene. This sad day should not come in India. I have full faith in the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Pranab Mukherjee, who as the President of India should intervene and caution these people that they are playing with fire. They don’t know what they are doing. As old saying goes, ‘God forgive them for they know not what they are doing’. Manmohan Singh is still a seasoned, mature man and Pranab Mukherjee of course is not only mature, he is the President of India and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. It is high time that these two meet and put a stop to this childish nonsense that is going on.

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