The Supreme Court on Friday deferred the hearing on plea seeking postponement of Union Budget presentation ahead of Assembly polls on January 23. The plea filed by Manohar Lal Sharma claimed that due to upcoming assembly elections, people will be facing a lot of problem. A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud, which has sought material and legal provisions in support of the PIL, preferred to go through the additional affidavit filed by the petitioner.
In December last year, the apex court refused to give an urgent hearing to a plea filed by lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma in which he demanded the budget be presented in March.
Yesterday Election Commission (EC) wrote to the Modi government asking why Budget 2017 should not be deferred, according to an ET Now report. Recently, the government 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.