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Role of Public Accounts Committee in India

Posted by Admin on April 17, 2014 | Comment

The 2G spectrum scam is still fresh in our memories. It is only few days after the suspicion surfaced that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) came into prominence. The committee started getting quoted in political discourse while it was busy probing the scam. In fact, the coal blocks allocation issue also brought to the forefront the prominent role played by PAC. For the uninitiated, Parliament forms this committee each year for auditing government’s expenditure. It is also responsible for scrutinizing the accounts of autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies.

Role of Public Accounts Committee in India

Formation of the PAC

This 22-member Committee comprises 15 members and 7 members from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, respectively. The committee is headed by a member of the opposition. No Minister is allowed to be a member of this panel. The objective behind this standard practice is to eliminate the chance of ruling party influencing or manipulating PAC’s decisions.

Roles & Responsibilities of the PAC

Since PAC’s job is to keep a tab on where and how the public money is being spent, it has the authority to examine the accounts relating to the Railways, Defence, and other ministries. It is the primary role of this parliamentary panel to assess whether the government has judiciously spent the money. If it comes to the notice that there has been an overspending or underutilization of funds, the Committee examines the justifications put forward by the government and analyses the circumstances that could have caused such digressions. Be it the cases of financial irregularities or tax evasion, the Committee refers and scrutinizes CAG (Comptroller and Auditor-General) reports before making its observations.

Functioning of the PAC

The panel performs a crucial exercise, which is to prepare and submit a report to the Lok Sabha on the basis of the irregularities observed. The report is then tabled in the Parliament for discussions and future recommendations. However, before the PAC starts working on the accounts details of any particular ministry, it interrogates the representative. In the process, the committee is assisted by the CAG.

As a mechanism for effective oversight, the public accounts committee makes recommendations to the government, following which the latter submits action taken notes to the panel.  In certain circumstances, the Committee appoints sub-Committees or working groups to examine specific issues.  The independent functioning of the PAC enables it to come up with unbiased reports. The panel remains a vital entity that helps the Parliament exercise its control over the revenues and expenditures of the government.


Reference: Parliament.nic.in Website