News stories appearing in the media about the contents of draft findings by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) which are yet to be tabled in parliament do not amount to breach of parliamentary privilege, the government has stated.
In response to a letter from CAG Vinod Rai, who wanted to know whether leaks in the media about the draft findings by his institution before the final report is tabled in parliament was a breach of parliamentary privilege, top law officer Attorney General GE Vahanvati has replied in the negative.
Rai had publicly slammed the leaking of the initial draft report on coal mining last month.
“The leak of the initial draft causes great embarrassment as the audit report is still under preparation,” the CAG had written in a letter to the PM on March 22. He had also demanded a probe into the leak.
Vahanavti is learnt to have pointed out that there was no provision in the existing laws to take action against those who manage to lay their hands on draft CAG reports since it is out of the ambit of the Official Secrets Act. He has stated that changes in the law were required to ensure such reports do not become public.
The matter was first raised before the CIC in 2010, which had ruled that audit notes used for preparation of CAG reports can be made public under RTI and this does not amount to any breach of privilege.