According to Empower.org,
• The rules lay out procedures under the three main stages of a social audit: preparatory phase, social audit forum, and post-social audit phase.
• The social audit forum (meeting of the gram sabha) must be conducted every six months, be presided over by a person selected by the forum, and must be widely publicised beforehand.
• The ‘action taken report’ relating to the previous social audit must be read out, attendance of all concerned officials is compulsory, and minutes of the meeting must be recorded by the secretary in the prescribed format. The audit is open to any outside individual, group, or NGO.
• The post-audit phase requires all complaints of non-performance to be looked into, and anyone involved in deviation of funds to be held accountable and the loss made good.
• The rules clearly state who is accountable for what at each stage of programme implementation. It also says that the central government will meet the costs of establishing and running a social audit cell at the state level.
According to the Vision Foundation's (2005) Social Audit-Gram Sabha and Panchayati Raj-document, submitted to the Planning Commission, GoI, October,
• "Social Audit is a process in which, details of the resource, both financial and non-financial, used by public agencies for development initiatives are shared with the people, often through a public platform. Social Audits allow people to enforce accountability and transparency, providing the ultimate users an opportunity to scrutinize development initiatives.”
• In the Panchayati Raj set up, the Gram Sabha, the general assembly of villagers, has a key role for effective functioning of Panchayats. In the Gram Sabha meeting, the rural poor, the women and the marginalised people would now get an opportunity to join in decision making on matters affecting their lives.
• Active functioning of the Gram Sabha would ensure a participatory democracy with transparency, accountability and achievement. Gram Sabha has been given ‘watchdog’ powers and responsibilities by the Panchayati Raj Acts in most States to supervise and monitor the functioning of panchayat elected representatives and government functionaries, and examine the annual statement of accounts and audit reports.
• These are implied powers indirectly empowering Gram Sabhas to carry out social audits in addition to other functions. Members of the Gram Sabha and the village panchayat, intermediate panchayat and district panchayat through their representatives, can raise issues of social concern and public interest and demand an explanation.
• In order to supplement the Panchayati Raj Act, the Government of India, in 1996, passed another Act known as Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, which extended the provisions of the Constitution (73 Amendment) Act of 1992 to the tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Rajasthan. This came into force on 24 December 1996.
• Social Audits are mandatory as per the 73rd Constitutional Amendment in 1993, through which the Village communities are empowered to conduct social audit of all development work in their respective villages and the concerned authorities are duty bound to facilitate them. The social audits are expected to contribute to the process of empowerment of the beneficiaries and generate demand for the effective delivery of programmes. The instructions require that special Gram Sabhas be arranged to conduct Social Audits in every ward and that Social Audits of all ongoing development works be included as an item of discussion in every Gram Sabha meeting.
• The provisions of Panchayats (extension to scheduled areas) Act 1996 lays down that the completion certificate for all villages development works can only be accorded by the Gram Sabha.
• Rajasthan (India) Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act 2000 vested on the Ward Sabha on “getting information on the detailed estimates of works prepared to be taken in the area of the Ward Sabha, exercising “Social Audit” in all works implemented in the area of Ward Sabha and awarding utilization and completion certificate for such work
• In the state of Madhya Pradesh (India) the process of Social Audit has been specified in the order No. 18069/22/JRY/vi - 7/96 dev. October 30th 1996.
• In the state of Orissa the Social Audit in rural development works has been mandatory with the issuance of Govt. order in the month of September 2002.