Found no merit in allegation of budget leak: Ram Niwas Goel

NEW DELHI: Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel on Friday said he had closely examined the opposition’s allegation of budget leak by ministers and found that there was no merit in it.

Addressing the post-budget session press conference, Goel said only a couple of numbers related to the budget outlay, which didn’t have any impact, had been revealed and hence a breach of privilege can’t be made out.

“I studied the issue and referred to Lok Sabha decisions in such matters. Notice could be admitted on a budget leak if some of its provisions which could benefit anyone – such as tax cut or hike or and such other details – are leaked. But in this case, only allocation for infrastructure and advertisement were there, which was not a matter of breach of privilege,” Goel said.

The Speaker also added that BJP had given the notice to raise the issue in the legislative assembly just one minute before the House proceedings were to start. “The notice was also about the leak of the outcome budget, not the annual budget 2023-24,” Goel said.

BJP leader Vijender Gupta had, on March 21, when the budget was originally scheduled to be presented, given a notice in the House to raise the breach of privilege alleging that finance minister Kailash Gahlot and environment minister Gopal Rai had shared crucial details of the budget, including the total outlay and the provision for infrastructure and advertising before the document was tabled before the members in the House.

The Speaker also said that though the conduct of proceedings in the House during the 10-day long session was relatively smooth in comparison to the many previous sessions, he alleged that several “hurdles” were still being created.

“The opposition let the House function smoothly during the first hour when more MLAs got the opportunity to raise the issues from their constituencies during the short discussion under rule 280. But they would disrupt the House on the other days,” Goel said.

The Speaker also alleged that the replies to questions being raised in the assembly concerning reserved subjects such as land, services and public order were not being given by the departments concerned. “If not in Delhi Assembly, will the incidents like police laxity in preventing goons from entering IP College for Women be discussed in Haryana and UP?” he asked, referring to the alleged harassment of students during a fest at Indraprastha College for Women early this week.

Goel asserted that the assembly was obliged to take up any issue that concerned the interests of the people of Delhi.