Public Accounts Committee - Indian Polity Notes

Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India submits three annual audit reports before the President who lay it before each house of the Indian Parliament. These reports are examined by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which is a Financial Committee, a type of Standing Committee. Questions from this section are always expected in IAS Exam and its three stages – Prelims, Mains, and Interview.

This article will mention in detail the Public Accounts Committee, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, its members and, its functions. Aspirants can also download the notes for PAC.

Public Accounts Committee – Indian Polity Notes:- Download PDF Here

Students preparing for UPSC 2022 and other Government Exams must be aware of this topic.

Visiting the Current Affairs page will help candidates immensely in cracking the IAS Exam.

Strengthen your preparation for the upcoming exam by checking the following links:

What is the Public Accounts Committee?

Public Accounts Committee was introduced in 1921 after its first mention in the Government of India Act, 1919 also called Montford Reforms. It is existing in the Indian Constitution since then. Know in detail about the Montague Chelmsford reforms on the given link.

PAC is one of the parliamentary committees that examine the annual audit reports of CAG, which the President lays before the Parliament of India. Those three reports submitted by CAG are:

  1. Audit report on appropriation accounts
  2. Audit report on finance accounts
  3. Audit report on public undertakings

The Public Accounts Committee examines public expenditure. That public expenditure is not only examined from a legal and formal point of view to discover technical irregularities but also from the point of view of the economy, prudence, wisdom, and propriety. The sole purpose to do this is to bring out cases of waste, loss, corruption, extravagance, inefficiency, and nugatory expenses.

Aspirants preparing for Civil Services exam can go through other such bodies on the links provided below-

  1. Types of Constitutional Bodies
  2. Constitutional, Statutory and Quasi-Judicial Bodies

The table briefly mentions everything about the Public Accounts Committee, details of which will be given after it:

Public Accounts Committee (PAC)
Year of Establishment 1921
Members 22
Election of Members By Parliament every year with proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote

Note: A minister cannot be elected

Term of Office One year
Chairman Speaker appoints him/her from amongst the members

Note: Invariably from the Opposition Party since 1967

Function To examine the annual audit reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), which are laid before the Parliament by the President

Note: CAG submits three reports – a report on appropriation accounts, an audit report on finance accounts, and an audit report on public undertakings

Questions from this section have been asked in the prelims stage and the UPSC Mains examination.

Who are the members of the Public Accounts Committee?

The financial committee has 22 members. All the members are taken from the Indian Parliament. Out of 22 members, 15 are elected from Lok Sabha (Lower House) and 7 members are elected from Rajya Sabha (Upper House.) (The difference between Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha can be read in the linked article.)

Mode of the election of Public Accounts Committee’s members:

The members of the committee are elected annually by the Parliament from amongst its members. The principle of Proportional Representation (PR) by means of Single Transferable Vote (STV.) This election method gives equal representation to all the members of the Parliament.

Term of the office of members of the Public Accounts committee:

Every member elected by the Parliament from both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are a part of the committee for a year. After a year, a new election takes place and members are changed or re-elected.

Note: Similar to Estimates Committee, a minister cannot be elected as a member of the Public Accounts Committee

Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee:

Lok Sabha speaker is the authority to appoint the chairman of the committee. The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee used to be appointed from the ruling party of the day until 1966-67 however; a convention later decided that the chairman of the committee will be appointed invariably from the opposition party.

What are the functions of the Public Accounts Committee?

This standing committee performs various functions. They are given below:

Functions of the Public Accounts Committee
S.No Type of Functions of PAC
1 It examines appropriation accounts and finance accounts of the central government which is laid before the Lok Sabha
2 It scrutinizes the audit reports of CAG to satisfy itself that:

  • The money that has been disbursed was legally available for the applied service or purpose
  • The expenditure conforms to the authority that governs it
  • Every re-appropriation has been made in accordance with the related rules
3 It examines the accounts of:

  • State corporations
  • Trading concerns and,
  • Manufacturing projects

Note: The audit report of these bodies are made by the CAG

4 It examines the accounts of:

  • Autonomous
  • Semi-autonomous bodies

Note: The audit report of these bodies are made by the CAG

5 It keeps a check on the money spent on any service during a financial year. If the money is in excess of the amount granted by the Lok Sabha for that purpose, it goes on to its report.

Note: All the functions performed by the Public Accounts Committee are assisted by Comptroller and Auditor General.

The given points are important for UPSC 2022 and aspirants shall keep in mind the facts about the committee to score in prelims and mains both.

Candidates can know about relevant commissions and committees of India for comprehensive preparation –

Finance Commission of India Planning Commission of India Delimitation Commission
Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Central Information Commission (CIC) National Commission For Women
Competition Commission of India (CCI) National Human Rights Commission of India Tax Administration Reform Commission

To know more about the list of Commissions and Committees, visit the linked page.

Limitations of the Public Accounts Committee

Though the committee is empowered to act upon the audit reports of the CAG, and also to keep a tab on the union government’s expenses, there are still a few limitations on it which it should adhere to. The limitations of the Public Accounts Committee are given below:

  1. Broadly, it cannot intervene in the questions of policy
  2. It can keep a tab on the expenses only after they are incurred. It has no power to limit expenses.
  3. It cannot intervene in matters of day-to-day administration.
  4. Any recommendation that the committee makes is only advisory. They can be ignored by the ministries.
  5. It is not vested with the power of disallowance of expenditures by the departments.
  6. Being only an executive body; it cannot issue an order. Only the Parliament can take a final decision on its findings.

Public Accounts Committee – Indian Polity Notes:- Download PDF Here

Relevant Articles:
Committee on Public Undertakings 42nd Amendment Act
Directive Principles of State Policy 44th Amendment Act
Types of Amendment in the Indian Constitution Important Articles in the Constitution of India


Leave a Comment

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published.