Thiruvananthapuram: The leak of the 2017 budget is not a first time incident- the first budget of the 1957 Communist government of Kerala was leaked from the Government press. Then the Kaumudi newspaper printed the entire copy of the budget before it was actually presented in the Assembly.
The 1957 budget, which was also the first budget to be presented in the state, got leaked from the Government Press while Achuta Menon was the Finance Minister. In a book,'Abhijathanaaya T K Divakaran', published years later, P C Pillai, the then compositor at the Press who was an RSP comrade confessed to leaking the budget to the press.
He had apparently rubbished one copy of the budget citing poor printing and later sneaked out this copy and handed it over to the Kaumudi City reporter, G Venugopal. Even though the staff are body searched when they return from work, Pillai was exempted because he was the Union leader and this helped him smuggle out a copy in what was confessed to be an instigation due to political disagreements with the new government.
The matter blew up a political storm and an enquiry was instituted. Venugopal lost his accreditation temporarily and paid Rs 45 as fine along with the others named in the case, K Balakrishnan, owner of the newspaper, Kainikkara Padmanabha Pillai, the editor and P C Pillai himself.
Following the political turmoil, it was also ruled by the then Speaker Shankaranarayanan Thampi that the budget is a property of the house and in the event of a leakage, any Member of the House can seek action from the Chair.
HOW THE BUDGET COMES
The budget of the state is prepared with what is a 3-month long process of consultations and calculations. The departments are consulted and written documents are exchanged on the recommendations. Thereafter an expert committee comprising Finance Minister, Finance Secretary and other senior officers will join together to draft the budget. It is then approved by the cabinet and the Finance Minister reads out the budget speech to the Chief Minister the night before presentation. It is then sent to the Government Press and printed in utmost secrecy and later transported to the house in a sealed cover. The press staff is let outside the premises only after the budget is presented.