The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that there will be no delay in the annual budget of the union government and that it will be presented on February 1. The apex court said that the budget date will not be moved from February 1 to after the assembly elections in five states.
The petitioner, an advocate named ML Sharma, had filed a petition, saying the centre could seek to influence the outcome of the elections with populist spending promises.
According to election rules, the governments are not allowed to offer giveaways or make any announcements that could tilt voters towards the party in power at the centre or in states.
But the apex court said on Monday that the union budget has nothing to "nothing to do with states". It stressed that polls in states are held so often that they cannot hamper 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 five state elections begin on February 4 in Punjab and Goa on February 4, followed by Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh (which votes on seven days) and Manipur. Results for all will be announced on March 11.