Part I and Part II in this series looked at the amendments put forward by K.T Shah, who was the prominent voice in the Constituent Assembly on modifications that should be made to Draft Article 92. His suggestions dealt with who should present the budget, where should it be presented, the division of expenses, and the items that should be included in the non-votable list of expenditures.
The other person to voice concerns about this article, particularly on the division of expenditure into two accounts, was Shibban Lal Saxena Saxena in his intervention understood the idea behind keeping certain elements of expenditure out of the ambit of a parliamentary vote: to ensure the independence of constitutional functionaries and protect their autonomy. At the same time, his concerns mirrored Shah’s: expanding the list of non-votable items of expenditure could undermine parliamentary supremacy in financial matters.
After Saxena’s intervention (which was the last), the President of the Constituent Assembly put all amendments – most, if not all of which were K.T. Shah’s – to vote; all the amendments were rejected – except one which Ambedkar had proposed: to add the salaries and allowances of the Comptroller and Auditor General into the non-votable list. The Assembly then went on to adopt Draft Article 92.
On February 28, 1950, around eight months after the Assembly adopted Article 92 of the Draft Constitution, John Mathai, who had been a member of the Constituent Assembly, presented the first budget of the Republic of India. In his speech, he touched upon a range of issues related to the country’s finances that included: inflation, balance of payments, agriculture. He also announced the government’s intention of setting up a Planning Commission with Jawahar Lal Nehru as Chairman and Gulzari Lal Nanda as Deputy Chairman.
On 1st February 2018, Arun Jaitley presented the latest Union Budget. If Shah’s proposals were accepted by the Assembly, the presentation of the budget would have looked different: ArunJaitley would have presented the budget in his name and not the in the name of the President of India; he would not have presented the budget in the Rajya Sabha; members of the Rajya Sabha would have been invited into the Lok Sabha to watch the presentation of the budget – but have no say in the proceedings; the Lok Sabha would have been discussing the salaries of judgesand would have had the power to reduce or increase them- adding another strand to the adversarial relationship that the Union judiciary and the legislature have had over the past couple of years. For better or worse, the Constituent Assembly rejected all of Shah’s proposals.