oppn parties Budget & State Elections: SC Dismisses PIL Challenging Advancement

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Budget & State Elections: SC Dismisses PIL Challenging Advancement

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The Supreme Court has rightly dismissed a PIL seeking the court to direct the Union government from presenting the budget on February 1 this year. M L Sharma, the advocate who filed the PIL, said that since elections to five states were to take place just a few days after the budget presentation, it was likely to influence voters. But the court was not impressed with the argument in the absence of specifics.

The bench of justices J S Khehar and D Y Chandrachud said that “No sorry we don’t find any merit in this petition. You are saying the timing is deliberately to influence the voters. How?” The justices went on to say that the petitioner was unable to corroborate his claim with a valid argument.

It has become a recurring feature for people file PIL’s just to grab headlines and become famous. The very fact that M L Sharma was agitated and went on to request the court to issue notice to the Centre or at least seek their response shows that he wanted to prolong the proceedings despite not having any concrete legal backing in his argument.

The court recognized this and sarcastically remarked that “Going by this argument, next you will say that the party in power at the Centre should not contest state polls.” They told the petitioner “You say that the preponement is illegal. We would like to know which law or provision of the constitution is violated?”

The decision to advance the budget date was taken a long time back by the government which is seeking to provide ample time to departments to apply the budget provisions from the start of the financial year from April 1. The Election Commission announced the dates for the elections much later. If the EC was concerned about the budget influencing the elections, it could have scheduled them later. The budget is a financial necessity and an administrative decision to prepone it does not violate any laws.

Although people point out to the fact that the budget was postponed in 2012 in similar circumstances, they forget that that does not set a precedent. Further, then the budget was presented on February 28. This time the EC has advanced the elections by one month. Also, when the government has categorically stated that it will refrain from announcing state-specific projects for the states going to have elections then there should ordinarily be no problem. But such is the state of opposition politics in India at the moment that anything that the government does is vehemently protested.

The Supreme Court has put to rest all such devious attempts. In line with the government's decision to have budget provisions applied from April 1, presentation of the budget on February 1 is essential. The opposition should refrain from opposing the government just for the sake of it. People are smart enough to see through their attempts to create hurdles and will not take kindly to such tactics.