The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a petition to delay the annual Union Budget, which Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is scheduled to deliver on February 1, dismissing concerns about potential giveaways ahead of critical state polls.
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.
The PIL, filed by advocate M L Sharma, stated that the Centre be directed to present the Union Budget in the financial year 2017-18 which would commence from April 1, instead of the proposed date of February 1.
It also demanded the central government to be restrained from declaring "any relief, programme, financial budget until the states' elections are over", as they would violate the Model Code of Conduct.
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 dependent 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.
Instead of the usual February 28, the 2017-18 Budget is scheduled to be presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on February 1, only a few days before Assembly elections kick off in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur from February 4 and go on till March 8.