The Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG)’s has criticised the functioning of the country’s top scientific institution, the Indian National Science Academy, in a draft report, accessed by this newspap
The Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG)’s has criticised the functioning of the country’s top scientific institution, the Indian National Science Academy, in a draft report, accessed by this newspaper.
In January 2016, PM Narendra Modi had called for a “framework of scientific audit” for scientific departments and institutions during the Indian Science Congress in Mysore. It was felt that the government was showing the red flag to CAG’s audits on the ground that the national auditor was capable of financial audit but not audit of scientific research.
The CAG report is a telling commentary of the alleged sad state of affairs in the scientific institution, right from setting up an establishment called the Centre for International Cooperation in Science in Chennai (CICS) to unauthorised appointments in INSA,
“INSA/DST (department of science and technology) had routed government funds to meet the administrative expenditure of an unauthorised body/committee,” the report says.
“The CICS was also being fed by grants-in-aid from INSA till date for its salaries and operational expenditure... During its council meeting held in July-August 2014, INSA recommended to engage CICS as its activity centre... However, no approval of the Cabinet was sought by INSA/DST/Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) as per the requirements,” it adds.
CICS was registered as a society in 2011 under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act 1975. Pointing out violation of government instructions on bylaws which requires finance ministry approval, the report says: “INSA continued to amend and reframe its bylaws, rules and regulations without the approval of the ministry of finance through their controlling ministry.”
The report says that INSA not only created (employment) posts but also implemented various rules and regulations without obtaining the mandatory finance ministry approval.
On INSA defending its position by stating that such directives were not applicable to it since it was a professional body, the CAG says: “The reply is not tenable as no separate status was accorded for any professional body to be government by different set of rules. Further, the academy is substantially financed by the government grants which required it to adhere with the rules/directives for all Central autonomous institutions.”
Critical of the arbitrary upgradation of the post of Executive Secretary, INSA, by the DST “on personal basis” with “instructions to revert the post to its original level after vacation of the post by the incumbent”, the CAG report says: “The upgradation/creation of the post and extension thereafter without the prior approval of the ACC (Appointments Committee of the Cabinet) was unauthorised which required immediate regularisation from the Ministry of Finance.”
Established in 1935 with a basic mandate to promote science, INSA, earlier known as the National Institute of Sciences for India, is the apex body of Indian scientists representing all branches of science and technology.