The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from the Centre and the RBI on a plea alleging that people were not being allowed to deposit demonetised currency notes till March 31 as promised.
“Issue notice returnable by Friday,” a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said and asked petitioner Sharad Mishra to serve the copy of its notice to the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India during the course of the day. Several petitions were also filed by companies and individuals over the government going back on its decision to extend the date of depositing demonetised notes till 31 March.
The plea referred to the speech of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8, 2016, when he said that citizens would be allowed to deposit the demonetised notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 beyond the cut-off date of 31 December, 2016 till 31 March, 2017.
“There may be some who for some reason, are not able to deposit their old 500 or 1,000 rupee notes by December 30, 2016. “They can go to specified offices of the Reserve Bank of India up to March 31, 2017 and deposit the notes after submitting a declaration form,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told in his address to the nation on 8 November.
Subsequently, a notification was issued by RBI spelling out that people may deposit demonetised currency notes even after December 31, 2016 at specific RBI branches up to March 31, 2017 after complying with certain procedural requirements.
The central bank on 31 December designated its five offices — Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, and Nagpur –to exchange defunct currency notes post 50-day demonetisation period that ended on 30 December.
The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul considered the argument that the RBI’s last ordinance, which permits only those persons who were outside India during the stipulated period to deposit the demonetised currency notes till March 31, is a breach of assurances given by the Prime Minister and the RBI.
Further, a women in her petition filed had argued that the government and the RBI said the grace period until 30 March for depositing old notes with the Central Bank was restricted to only NRIs and for Indians who were out of the country in November and December. As a result, the women petitioner said she was robbed off the opportunity of depositing old notes with the RBI.
The bench, however, did not prima facie accept the woman’s contention.
“Who did not know of this (demonetisation)? There was a big hungama over it. You could have issued a power of attorney,” The Economic Times said quoting Chief Justice J S Kehar.