Supreme Court rejects plea to delay annual budget

Photo of building of Supreme Court of India.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today rejected a plea for deferring the Union budget 2017-18, in view of assembly polls in five states, holding that the presentation has to be done before the start of the financial year (FY)-from April 1st-and not during the FY.

Rejecting the plea, a bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said: “If there is something that the Centre does that affects elections in the states then the Election Commission would come into the picture … but does it extend to the central budget?”

Rejecting the PIL, the order said: “None of the prayers made in the petition have been made out”.

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The government has advanced the presentation of the annual budget to February 1, instead of the usual practice of presenting it on the last day of February.

Advocate M.L. Sharma, however, persisted with his plea for deferment of the presentations of the budget as, he contended, it would influence the voters and thus affect free and fair elections.

The bench then asked him to give one concrete example to show that one step in the budget that would affect the minds of the voters and the outcome of the elections in the states.

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Referring to the provisions of the constitution that clearly demarcates the sphere of the Centre and the states, the apex court said if there were consecutive elections to the state assemblies in the month of March, April and May, and the logic being advanced by the petitioner advocate was to be applied, then there would be no budget.

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

The Centre has already decided to convene the Budget Session of Parliament from January 31 to present the Budget for 2017-18 fiscal the very next day.

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