Every year, before the union budget is presented, a strict cloak of secrecy is to be worn by each and every member who is a part of preparing the budget. Under no circumstances should any part of the budget leak before it is officially presented to the public. However once in 1950, a leak did happen. As a result of this leak, the location of the printing of the budget papers was shifted from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to a government press on Minto Road. And then since 1980, North Block’s basement is where printing is done.
So how does the government maintain the secrecy?
Approximately 100 officials who are a part of printing the budget are locked in a basement in North Block for a week to 10 days – right from the start of the printing of the budget to the end of it. Also, no mobile phones are allowed in the printing area. Surveillance of the officials who are involved in the process is done 24×7. These officers cannot contact even their family during the time period of printing and only in case of an emergency a call can be made in the presence of an intelligence officer.
According to a report on businesstoday.in, budget-making is a big thing for the Finance Ministry and before the preparing of the budget begins, a customary ritual of distributing of halwa amongst the staff takes place. It is after this that the officials who are assigned the duty of printing the budget are locked in a basement to maintain secrecy.
Another important part of the budget is the ‘Blue Sheet’. It contains the most important figures around which the entire budget is prepared. This sheet is guarded with life. Even the Finance Minister himself cannot keep it. It has to be kept in the custody of the Joint Secretary (Budget).
Electronic jammers to jam cellphone signals are installed inside the North Block and the email-facility is also blocked, according to the same report.
The leaking of secret government documents is punishable by the law, under the Officials Secrets Act, 1923.
Preview Photo: financialexpress.com