US, Pak, China watching, so didn’t upload defence reports: outgoing CAG
Rajiv Mehrishi, who completed his term Friday as Comptroller and Auditor General of India, said he did not make defence audit reports available online because “someone in Washington, someone in Beijing and someone in Islamabad may also be watching”. “The idea is to make (these reports) not too easily accessible. There is no need.” He said this was “not a government decision”, but “my decision”.
“Parliament ko hum (report) de rahe hain, PAC ko hum de rahe hain (we are giving the report to Parliament, the Public Accounts Committee). It is not really a secret. At least we are not making it available on the tap of a button. Koi Washington me bhi dekh raha hai, Beijing me bhi dekh raha hai aur Islamabad me bhi dekh raha hai. Therefore, we took a decision,” he said.
“Hamari report aayegi toh usme hum shortcomings batayenge hi. Lekin defence ki report ko website par daalne ka koi sense nahin hai (We will highlight shortcomings in our report. But there is no sense in uploading defence reports on a website). Why should it be easily accessible to everybody in the world,” he said.
Mehrishi told The Sunday Express: “When I was in Home (Ministry), there was a lot of tension with Pakistan. Tab ek report aayi thi CAG ki, saying kitna shortage of ammunition hai… Basically, agar shortage hai toh bhi, maan lijiye hai shortage, toh kam se kam dushman ko maloom nahin hona chahiye.” (“When I was in Home (Ministry), there was a lot of tension with Pakistan. At that time, there was a CAG report detailing shortage of ammunition. Basically, if there is a shortage, then at least the enemy should not know about it.”)
A former Union Home Secretary, Mehrishi was appointed CAG in September 2017. The last defence audit report uploaded on the CAG website was days before he took charge — the Performance Audit of Defence Pension (26 of 2017) was tabled in Parliament on July 28, 2017.
In February 2019, the CAG’s Performance Audit Report on ‘Capital Acquisition in Indian Air Force’, Union Government (Defence Services) Air Force, tabled in Rajya Sabha on the last day of the Budget session, concluded that the NDA government’s contract with France for the purchase of 36 fighter aircraft was 2.86 per cent lower than the price assessed by the CAG for the UPA government’s inconclusive Rafale deal. The CAG, which did not disclose pricing details in absolute terms, came to this conclusion after considering 14 items under six component packages of the deal.
During Mehrishi’s tenure, the CAG tabled eight defence audit reports in Parliament, but did not make these available on the CAG website.