The Supreme Court on June 1 declined an urgent hearing of an appeal against the Delhi High Court order that had dismissed a plea challenging the Reserve Bureau of India’s decision permitting citizens to exchange Rs 2,000 banknotes, which are being pulled out of circulation, without any requisition slip and ID proof.
A vacation bench of Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and K V Viswanathan declined an urgent hearing of the plea saying the case does not require a hearing during the vacation. Mentioning the matter of urgent hearing, advocate Ashwini Upadhyay told the bench that the notification was manifestly arbitrary and enabled criminals to exchange black money.
“Rs 50,000 crore has been exchanged in three days, this is happening first time in the world,” he said.
The bench, however, said that the plea does not merit hearing during the vacation and said he may mention the matter before the Chief Justice of India when the Court reopens after its ongoing summer break.
It said, “Sorry, we are not entertaining these petitions during the vacation. Please mention before the Chief Justice of India after vacation.”
Upadhyay, on May 31, moved the apex court against the May 29 order of the High Court, which had dismissed his plea.
On May 19, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced it would pull out the Rs 2,000 denomination from circulation as part of a “currency management exercise”. The RBI has given citizens time till September 30 to exchange these notes with those of other denominations.
On May 20, the State Bank of India (SBI), too, instructed its local head offices that the facility of exchange of Rs 2,000 denomination banknotes to all members of the public up to a limit of Rs 20,000 at a time will be allowed without obtaining any requisition slip.
Seeking a stay on RBI and SBI’s notifications, the advocate said that it gives an opportunity to legalise illegal money and hence contrary to the aims and objects of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Benami Transactions Act, Money Laundering Act, Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, CVC Act, Fugitive Economic Offenders Act and the Black Money Act.
“Therefore, Court may stay the notifications so far as they permit the exchange of banknotes without requisition slip and identity proof,” it has stated in its appeal before the top Court.
The High Court dismissed Upadhyay’a plea saying, “This decision of the government is purely a policy decision and courts should not sit as an appellate authority over the decision taken by the government.”
Upadhyay sought a direction to ensure that people deposit Rs 2,000 notes in their “respective bank accounts only so that no one could deposit the money in others’ bank accounts”.
“A large amount of notes of this denomination has either reached in lockers of individuals or been “hoarded by separatists, terrorists, Maoists, drug smugglers, mining mafias and corrupt people”, he has said in his plea before the High Court.
The RBI has told the High Court that the withdrawal of Rs 2,000 notes is a “statutory exercise” and the decision to enable their exchange was taken for “operational convenience”.
According to the RBI, the Rs 2,000 denomination banknote was introduced in November 2016 primarily to meet the currency requirement of the economy in an expeditious manner after the withdrawal of the legal tender status of all Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes in circulation at that time.
(with inputs from ANI)