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Budget On February 1, No Delay, Says Supreme Court

NDTV logo NDTV 23-01-2017

The government's annual budget will not be moved from February 1 to after the elections in states like Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court ruled today.

The petitioner, an advocate named ML Sharma, had argued that the centre could seek to influence the outcome of the polls with populist spending promises. Election rules do not allow governments to offer giveaways or make any announcements that could skew voters towards the party in power at the centre or in states.

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But the court today said that the union budget has "nothing to do with states " and stressed that elections in states are held so often that they cannot impede the work of the centre. " Throughout the year, there may be elections in different states, so should the centre not present the budget?" judges asked.

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The Finance Ministry began printing the budget documents last week.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government announced last autumn that it would deliver its budget a month earlier than usual for the 2017/18 financial year. The budget session of parliament will start on January 31 when the government is expected to present the Economic Survey, which sets the scene for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's fourth annual budget.

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The cabinet decided last September to merge the railway budget with the annual budget, ending a nearly century-long practice. It also advanced the date of the general budget, usually the last working day in February, to ensure proposals take effect from April 1.

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