It is the duty of the Public Accounts Committee to examine the appropriation accounts and the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor-General on them and such other accounts laid before Parliament as the Committee may think fit.
The purpose of such examination is to ensure the accountability of the Executive to Parliament with respect to all its activities in the financial field. In carrying out its investigations, the Committee receives the expert advice of the Comptroller and Auditor-General who takes it through the intricacies of government accounts.
The Committee examines departmental witnesses who are summoned to appear before it and to answer the criticism which the Comptroller and Auditor-General have brought against the working of their departments in his annual reports.
It is widely accepted that the success or failure of the work of the Public Accounts Committee depends mainly on the quality of the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor-General.
His reports will not only ensure that appropriations made by Parliament are not exceeded without supplementary grants but also that the expenditure conforms to the rules.
In addition, he must also satisfy himself on behalf of Parliament about the wisdom, faithfulness and economy of the spending programme of the Government.
Under Article 151, the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor-General relating to the accounts of the Union are submitted to the President. Those relating to the accounts of the States are submitted to the Governors. These reports are laid before Parliament and the State Legislatures respectively.
The service rendered by the Comptroller and Auditor-General is of inestimable value to safeguard the interests of the tax-payer. Audit is the watch-dog of the finances of the nation and the Comptroller and Auditor-General is the supreme overseer of the Government’s financial activities on behalf of Parliament.
In a country like India where public expenditure is increasing at a fast pace year after year, there is scope both for the widening and for the intensifying of the role of the Comptroller and Auditor-General for the better realisation of the democratic ideals embodied in the Constitution.