except for national security, transparency has to be maintained in every sphere,” he said.
Senior lawyer Harish Salve said CAG audit for the purposes of ascertaining the government’s share of annual gross revenue is fair enough. “The CAG can definitely check whether the percentage of gross revenue given to the government has been properly calculated. However, the judgment will not have any bearing on other revenue departments (like those dealing with taxes) as they are being periodically audited,” he added.
Former additional solicitor general Vivek Tankha said: “Licence agreement will telecom companies and production-sharing contract with private oil companies are commercial contracts to develop a natural resource, which according to the apex court is a state’s wealth. It can’t be a completely private contract.”
Telecom companies, sources said, are likely to challenge the HC order in the Supreme Court, which will have to examine the issue in a larger commercial perspective including impact on foreign direct investment in India.
Ficci president Sidharth Birla said, “As far as audit by the CAG is concerned, we believe the CAG was constituted to be answerable to Parliament in respect of businesses which are owned by the government. So therefore, to my mind, there is no place for CAG interfering into a private company’s books.”