SC dismisses plea against early Budget

SC dismisses plea against early Budget

The Centre can go ahead and present its Budget on February 1, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

A public interest petition had sought a later date on the grounds that Assembly elections were due in five states. Customarily, February 28 is when the Centre presents its budget. The government has advanced the date this year.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said there was nothing in the law against the Budget being presented ahead of the Assembly polls. “There is no illustration to support that the presentation... would influence the voters' mind in the state elections,” the bench, also comprising Justices N V Ramana and D Y Chandrachud, said.

Petitioner-advocate M L Sharma failed to provide any concrete example of what announcements could sway the electorate, they observed.

“Not just legislative powers, but executive powers are also different as far as the Centre and states are concerned.

 This has been well-defined in the Constitution,” the bench said. If the Centre does anything that affects free and fair elections, the Election Commission could act against it, the judges observed. They asked the petitioner to show how the Budget might influence voters in the states. The court was not impressed with his contention that the Centre might announce sops for voters. “Your argument is absurd. This way you will say the party in power at the Centre should not contest state polls,” the bench said.

The Election Commission had last week asked the Centre about the procedure followed by the government when it delayed the Budget of 2012.

Though the petitioner cited Article 112 of the Constitution to contend that the Budget for the next financial year, beginning April 1, could not be presented in the current year, the court remained unmoved.
DH News Service


Centre’s take
The Centre claimed it had decided in September 2016 to present the 2017-18 Budget on February 1. Assembly elections in five states begin on February 4 and continue till March 8. The results will be announced on March 11.

EC okays Budget
The Election Commission on Monday gave its nod to the government to present the Union Budget to Parliament on February 1, but asked it not to announce any scheme specifically for the five poll-bound states, reports DHNS.

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