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SC rejects plea against advancement of Budget, clears way for presentation on Feb 1

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea seeking its postponement saying there was no illustration to support that the budget would influence voters in poll-bound states.
India TV News Desk New Delhi January 23, 2017 17:43 IST
India TV News Desk

Clearing the way for the presentation of the Union Budget on February 1, the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea seeking its postponement saying there was no illustration to support that the budget would influence voters in poll-bound states.  

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the apex court seeking postponement of Union Budget on grounds of the upcoming Assembly polls in five states including politically crucial Uttar Pradesh.  

“There is no illustration to support that the presentation of Union Budget would influence voters' mind in state elections,” the Supreme Court said while dismissing the litigation. 

A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar refused to admit the plea saying "there was not even a single concrete example that the presentation of Union Budget would influence the minds of electorate in state elections". 

The bench, also comprising Justices N V Ramana and D Y Chandrachud, did not grant opportunity to lawyer M L Sharma, who had filed the PIL in personal capacity, to come back to it if the Centre violated the model code of conduct in its budget, to be presented on February one. 

Referring to constitutional provisions, the court said there are clear divisions of subjects, Union, State and concurrent, in the Constitution and the presentation of Union budget cannot be dependant on state polls "which keep happening." 

It was not impressed with the arguments that the Centre may announce sops for the voters of the states going for polls in the budget, saying "Your argument is absurd. This way you will say the party in power at Centre should not contest state polls". 

The bench did not agree with the submission that in the past, Centre had postponed presentation of budget due to assembly polls. 

The PIL has said the Centre be directed to present the Budget in the financial year 2017-18 which would commence from April 1, instead of the proposed February 1 date. 

It has also said the government be restrained from declaring "any relief, programme, financial budget until the states' elections are over" as they would violate the Model Code of Conduct. 

The government has already said that it plans to go ahead with the presentation of the Union Budget 2017-18 on February 1, despite objections by opposition parties, but will refrain from making any specific announcements pertaining to five poll-bound states.  

Opposition parties including Congress and TMC had approached the Election Commission against presentation of the Budget just hours before the first of the five states goes to poll on February 4.   

The BJP-led government has, however, argued before the poll body that it had made clear its intention on this way back in September 2016 so as to help begin the investment cycle right from the first day of the new fiscal, April 1.

The Election Commission had on January 4 come out with the schedule of assembly elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh.

Punjab and Goa will go to polls together on February 4, Uttarakhand on February 15, Manipur in two phases on March 4 and 8, and Uttar Pradesh in seven phases from February 11 to March 8. Counting for all states will be held on March 11.