Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the plea to change the Budget date from February 1. According to PTI, the Supreme Court dismissed the PIL, filed by ML Sharma, as there was no illustration to support that the presentation of the Budget would influence voters’ mind in state elections.
The PIL had said that the Centre be directed to present the Budget in the financial year 2017-18 which would commence from 1 April, instead of the proposed 1 February date. It has also said the central 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.
Recently, Election Commission (EC) wrote to the Modi government asking why Budget 2017 should not be deferred, according to an ET Now report. The government also replied to EC on the opposition complaint against presenting the Union Budget before Assembly elections, defending its decision to advance the budget session for the purpose.
Meanwhile, Declaration of the schedule of Assembly elections 2017 in five states triggered a controversy over the scheduled presentation of Union Budget 2017 on February 1. Opposition parties, including BJP’s Maharashtra ally Shiv Sena, have alleged that Bharatiya Janata Party would get an undue advantage by announcing the Union budget just before the elections starting February 4 in Goa and Punjab. Other three states going to the polls are Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Uttarakhand.
However, Arun Jaitley said that the date for presenting the Union Budget on February 1 was decided much in advance of the EC’s announcement of Punjab polls, dismissing Opposition allegation that the budget was scheduled keeping in view the state elections.
Also, the 92-year-old practice of presenting a separate Rail Budget is going to end from this fiscal, with the Finance Ministry accepting Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s proposal to merge it with the General Budget. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has indicated that railway travel may become pricier for passengers come the next financial year.