Demonetisation: SC asks govt to explore options to open exchange window for people with valid reasons

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the government and the Reserve Bank of India whether genuine people can be given a window to exchange the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, saying the honest can't be made to suffer.

The apex court granted two weeks to the Centre to mull over option to provide window to those who could not deposit demonetised notes due to valid reasons.

"There can be a situation where a person has lost his/her money for no fault. Suppose a person was in jail during the period... We want to know as to why you chose to bar such persons," the bench said.

The solicitor general then sought time to seek instructions for granting an opportunity to persons to deposit their money on a case-by-case basis.

The government had demonetised the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 on 8 November 2016 and gave time until 30 December for common people to exchange the old notes. However, it also had assured the people at large that if they were unable to exchange them on time, they can do so till 31 March 2017 at RBI branches after complying with some formalities.



However, later the government reversed this decision and said ending the deadline on 30 December and allowing exchange facility only for those who were abroad and security personnel posted in remote areas during the demonetisation period.

The court is hearing a batch of pleas including the one filed by Sudha Mishra challenging the Centre's decision not to allow the public at large to deposit demonetised currency notes until 31 March as promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his 8 November speech. The plea is being heard by a bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul.

In April, the bench had noted that if it decides to grant relief for extension of the window for exchanging scrapped notes, it will be not in individual cases but for the general public.

"If there has to be a window (extension for depositing demonetised notes) then all of you (petitioners and others) have to be considered," the bench had said.

This had given hopes to many people who got stuck with huge amount of old notes as they delayed exchanging due to various reasons.

Earlier, the Centre, in its affidavit, had told the apex court that it has taken a "conscious decision" not to extend the period beyond December 30 last year for exchanging demonetised currency notes unlike for the NRIs, and security personnel posted in remote areas, which ended on 31 March.

The government has also said it was not legally bound to come out with a fresh notification to grant grace period or window for depositing scrapped currency notes.

The affidavit has given details about the raids and seizures made by the law-enforcing agencies during and after the demonetisation period claiming that undisclosed income of over Rs 5,400 crore was detected.

The apex court had on 6 March issued notice to the Centre and the RBI on one of the pleas alleging that people were not being allowed to deposit demonetised currency notes till 31 March as promised.

One of the petitions also referred to the speech of the prime minister on 8 November 2016 and subsequent notification of the RBI spelling out that people may deposit demonetised currency notes even after 31 December 2016 at specific RBI branches up to 31 March 2017 after complying with certain procedural requirements.

It has referred to the Specified Bank Notes Cessation of Liabilities Ordinance and said it had gone against the assurance.

The ordinance had said that only those who were abroad, the armed forces personnel posted in remote areas or others who could give valid reasons for not being able to deposit the cancelled notes at banks, could deposit demonetised currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 till 31 March 31 this year after the deadline expired on 30 December 2016.

With PTI inputs

Updated Date: Jul 04, 2017 12:06 PM

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