Public Accounts Committee: Chairman, Functions of PAC, and Members | UPSC

By K Balaji|Updated : January 18th, 2023

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is a parliamentary committee that is one of the three financial committees of the standing committees. The Parliament of India constitutes Public Accounts Committee, and only selected members are part of it. The PAC was established to audit revenue and the expenditure of the Indian Government.

The article covered all the related details about public account committees, including their formation, working, members, etc. Those preparing for the UPSC must go through this post to strengthen their preparation for the UPSC exam.

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Public Accounts Committee

The Public Accounts Committee was set up in 1921 in the wake of the Montague-Chelmsford Reforms. The Finance Member of the Executive Council used to be the Chairman of the Committee. The Committee on Public Accounts underwent a radical change with the coming into force of the Constitution of India on 26 January, 1950, when the Committee became a Parliamentary Committee functioning under the control of the Lok Sabha Speaker with a non-official Chairman appointed by the Speaker from among the Members of Lok Sabha elected to the Committee. The Minister of Finance ceased to be a Member of the Public Accounts Committee vide Rule 309(i) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha. 

Particulars of the Public Accounts Committee

The Public Accounts Committee is established by Parliament each year to examine the annual Finance Accounts of the Government of India, the accounts of autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies, as well as accounts that show the appropriation of funds granted by Parliament for expenditure by the Government of India (except those of Public Undertakings and Government Companies which come under the purview of the Committee on Public Undertakings). 

The Committee on Public Accounts was established for the first time in 1921 and is the oldest Parliamentary Committee.

Public Accounts Committee (PAC)

A Public Accounts Committee is a financial committee that analyses the annual audit report submitted by the Comptroller Auditor General (CAG). The audit reports are not directly provided to the committee; instead, the CAG submits these reports to the President. Hence, the President forwards the reports to the Public Accounts Committee for further observation and analysis.

The annual audit reports analyzed by the Public Accounts Committee are:

  • The audit report on appropriation accounts
  • Finance accounting audit report
  • Audit report on public projects

Members of the Public Accounts Committee

Presently, the members of the Public Accounts Committee are 22 in number. Of these, 15 members are from the Lok Sabha, and the remaining 7 are from the Rajya Sabha.

  • Every year, the members of the Public Accounts Committee are elected by the parliament its members.
  • The election of the PAC members is based on the principle of proportional representation through the single transferable vote to ensure equal participation and representation of all the parties in the committee.
  • The term of office of the members of this committee is one year.
  • The speaker of the Lok Sabha appoints the Public Accounts Committee chairman, and the chairman has to be among the committee members.
  • Before 1966-67, the Public Accounts Committee chairman was from the ruling party, but since 1967, the chairman of the committee has been from the opposition party.

Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee

At present, the Public Accounts Committee Chairman is Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

The Speaker is empowered to appoint the Committee's Chairman from amongst its Members. The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee is appointed by the Speaker from amongst the members of the Committee from Lok Sabha.

Functions of the Public Accounts Committee

The task of the Public Accounts Committee is to analyze the annual audit reports submitted by the CAG to the President of India, which are further presented in Parliament by the President.

  • The analysis of the report by the committee is done on certain grounds, such as legal and formal points of view, to find out the technical asymmetries and also on the grounds of economy, prudence, wisdom, and propriety to list the issues of waste, losses, extravagance, corruption, inefficiency, and unnecessary expenses.
  • The committee analyzes whether or not the money spent has been used for the specified purpose.
  • The committee determines whether the expenditure description is up to the concerned authority's mark and ensures that the expenditures mentioned are completely unambiguous.
  • The committee analyzes the accounts of state corporations, trading concerns, and manufacturing projects.
  • The Public Accounts Committee also scrutinizes the accounts of autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies audited by the CAG.
  • The committee analyses every audit report of the CAG related to any receipt or any account of stores and books.
  • It is also the task of the committee to scrutinize the money disbursed for any of the services during that financial year.

Limitations of the Public Accounts Committee

Public Accounts Committee is empowered to act on the audit reports of the CAG. It also keeps track of the union government’s expenses. Still, there are some limitations to it.

  • It can’t intervene in the questions of policy.
  • It can keep track of the expenses only after they are incurred.
  • Public Accounts Committee can’t intervene in matters with day-to-day administration.
  • Being an executive body, it can’t issue an order. Only parliament has the right to take a final decision on its findings.
  • Ministries can ignore any recommendations made by PAC.

Public Accounts Committee UPSC

Public Accounts Committee is an essential topic under the Polity and Governance. The topic is also important concerning UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains. Candidates can also check out the UPSC Previous Years Question Papers to understand the types of questions asked by PAC.

Public Accounts Committee UPSC Question

Question: Consider the following statements regarding the Public Accounts Committee.

  1. The Public Accounts Committee is exclusively a committee of the Lower House.
  2. The Public Accounts Committee is the largest committee of the Parliament.
  3. The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee is invariably from the ruling party.

Select the correct answers from the code given below-

  1. Only 1 is correct.
  2. Only 1 and 3 are correct.
  3. All 1, 2, and 3 are correct.
  4. None are correct.

Answer: Option D

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FAQs on Public Accounts Committee

  • The Public Accounts Committee is a committee constituted by the parliament of India, and it consists of selected members of the Parliament for auditing the revenue and the expenditure of the Indian Government.

  • The first-ever Public Accounts Committee was constituted in India in the year 1921, under the provisions of the Government of India Act 1919 or Montague-Chelmsford reforms and since then this committee is been constituted continuously.

  • The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee is appointed by the speaker of the Lok Sabha amongst the members of the committee. A minister can neither be elected as a member nor be appointed the chairman of the committee.

  • Up to 1966-67, the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee was from the ruling party but since 1967 the Public Accounts Committee chairman is selected invariably from the opposition party. At present, the Public Accounts Committee Chairman is Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

  • There are 22 members in the Public Accounts Committee, out of which 15 members are from the Lok Sabha while the remaining 7 members are from the Rajya Sabha.

  • The Lok Sabha Speaker receives the report from the Public Accounts Committee. The primary duty of the Public Accounts Committee is to review the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) audit report and make a report to the legislature. The Lok Sabha Speaker appoints the committee's chairman from among its members.

  • The Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament, elects fifteen members to the Public Accounts Committee, while the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament, elects no more than seven members.

  • The primary duty of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which acts as a check on the administration, is to review the audit report of the Comptroller and Auditor General after it has been placed before Parliament.

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