Supreme court refuses urgent hearing on plea to put Budget on hold

The opposition parties have already petitioned the President and the EC to plead that the budget sought to be announced just three days before the elections begin would give the ruling BJP an unfair

New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Friday refused to hold an urgent hearing to stay presentation of the Union Budget on February 1 in view of the Assembly elections in five states. Stating that there is no urgency, it said: “We will lay down the law when the petition comes up in normal course.”

The issue tossed at the Bench headed by Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar through a PIL (public interest litigation) mentioned by petitioner advocate M L Sharma of Delhi was whether presentation of a budget should be stopped when polls are taking place to prevent the government luring the voters with sops announced in the budget.

Elections are be held in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur from February 4 to March 8. Opposition parties say the government can sway voters with populist announcements if the budget is presented as scheduled on February 1.

The PIL that came up before the Bench which also included Justices N V Ramana and D Y Chandrachud, also sought freezing of the BJP’s election symbol if government goes ahead with the presentation of the budget in violation of the Model Code of Conduct that came into force with the announcement of the election schedule by the Election Commission on Wednesday.

The petitioner cited the Election Symbol (Reservation Order), 1968 to buttress his plea for the cancellation of BJP’S election symbol Lotus if government goes ahead with the presentation of the budget for the year 2017-2018.

The opposition parties have already petitioned the President and the Election Commission to plead that the budget sought to be announced just three days before the elections begin would give the ruling BJP an unfair advantage.

Leaders of the Congress, Trinamool, Samajwadi party, Mayawati”s BSP, Nitish Kumar”s Janata Dal (United) and Lalu Yadav”s RJD met the Election Commission together on Thursday to argue the case for deferring the budget.

“There can be no concession to any political party. This is against the Constitution and the ideal of democracy. We said that to ensure fair elections, the budget must be deferred to after the election results on March 11,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said after the meeting.

“The simple solution is to present the budget after March 8, the last day of voting, and get it passed before March 31. We are optimistic,” said Trinamool Congress leader Derek O”Brien, who had tweeted on Thursday, saying the budget date is “too close to the polls.”

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