Brushing aside doubt in the wake of death of a sitting member, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today announced that he will present the Union Budget for 2017-18 as scheduled at 11 am.
“Watch me live presenting the Union Budget 2017 at 11 am, February 1, 2017,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tweeted.
The tweet came as doubt was being cast over presentation of the Budget in the wake the death of former Union minister and Indian Union Muslim League leader E Ahamed early this morning.
Some quarters even demanded putting off the Budget presentation till tomorrow following the tradition of Lok Sabha adjourning for the day as a mark of respect whenever a sitting MP passes away.
The government, however, felt that performing a constitutional duty did not mean any disrespect to the departed soul and there were two precedents where death of a sitting MP and minister did not prevent the then government from presenting the Budget on the scheduled day.
Sources said the government cited death of minister M B Rana on the Budget day on August 31, 1974. The then Speaker G S Dhillon decided to go ahead with the Budget presentation.
Indira Gandhi was the prime minister then.
Also, on April 19, 1954, sitting member Jujhar Pal Sorein passed away on the day of presentation of the Railway Budget, but the House proceedings were held as scheduled.
Sources said that on both occasions, the Lok Sabha met in the morning and was adjourned for a few hours as mark of respect to the departed and the Budget was unveiled in the evening, in line with the schedule.
In those days, the Budget was presented in evening, usually at 5 pm.
The Budget presentation, the sources said, is likely after an obituary reference.
Also, all Budget papers are printed with today’s date, postponement will cause many hassles, the government argued.
Sources said Jaitley met President Pranab Mukherjee in the morning to fulfil the constitutional obligation of getting a go-ahead from the head of state for the Budget presentation.