NEW DELHI: Refusing to give any breather to those people who could not deposit their old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes by December 30, 2016, deadline, the Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that it could not give more time to them as it would defeat the purpose of demonetisation which was aimed at eliminating black money.
In the affidavit, government said, “The very object of demonetisation and elimination of black money will be defeated if a window is opened for a further period as the persons in possession of the specified bank notes would have had sufficient time and opportunity to carefully plan the reasons and excuses for not depositing the currency within the permitted period.”
The Finance Ministry affidavit comes days after the apex court asked the Centre to look out for options for people who could not exchange their old currency because of genuine reasons. In November last year, government had recalled Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes with an aim to wage war against black money and corruption.
“As a result of extension of the deadline, a number of benami transactions and user proxies for the purpose of producing and depositing notes would then arise and the departments will have great difficulty in differentiating genuine cases from the numerous bogus ones,” the affidavit read, citing previous extensions given to public that were grossly misused like of exchanging old notes to be used to book railway tickets or at petrol pumps among others.
The court is hearing a batch of petitions filed by those who were denied permission by the Reserve Bank of India to deposit their money after the deadline expired. Last year on November 8, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address, had said that those who couldn’t deposit or exchange the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes during the 50-day window would be allowed to do so till March 31, 2017, at specified offices of the RBI. The notification issued also stated the same. However, on December 30, Centre came out with the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liability) Ordinance, 2016, by which the right to deposit demonetised notes with RBI till March 31 was restricted to non-resident Indians. This has been challenged by the petitioners.
In the last hearing, the Chief Justice of India had asked the government to consider giving some more time to people and said, “You cannot be allowed to deprive a person of his money if he couldn’t deposit it due to genuine problems. Give a window to a genuine problem. What if someone is terminally ill and couldn’t deposit the money?”