NEW DELHI: Holding old notes would be treated as a crime and the person found having in excess of 10 old notes would be liable for punishment as the Cabinet on Wednesday approved an ordinance to impose penalties on anyone possessing the demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
The penalty for holding old currency in excess of 10 notes may include financial fine and a jail term of up to four years in certain cases.
Officials said that the Narendra Modi government wants to put out a clear message to black money holders that nobody could conceal old notes.
The ordinance, cleared at the Cabinet meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, will be sent to the President for his approval. The Centre banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on November 8 in a sudden anti-corruption move against black money. Old notes can be deposited in banks till Friday, December 30.
After that, only people who could not deposit their banned notes because of exceptional circumstances can do so, that too at the Reserve Bank of India.
There may be a fine of at least Rs 50,000 or five times the amount caught — whichever is higher. A magistrate will hear cases involving violation and decide on the punishment.
The ordinance, named as ‘The Specified Bank Notes Cessation of Liabilities Ordinance’, is to extinguish liability of government and RBI on the demonetised high-denomination notes.
The government’s move took out 86 percent of the money in circulation. According to the RBI, more than Rs 13 lakh crore in old notes has already returned to the system as deposits.
People with undeclared money in old notes still have a one-time window to deposit their undeclared money in banned notes and pay 50 per cent in tax and penalty.
Officials said that fresh guidelines would be issued for an exchange of notes at RBI counters post-December 30. Notes would be allowed to be deposited with select branches of RBI till March 31 in exceptional circumstances.
Meanwhile, the BJP and Congress continue to engage in verbal fights as the demonetisation drive is set to reach its 50-day deadline. Hitting back at Rahul Gandhi, the BJP on Wednesday said that he should first answer who benefited from the VVIP chopper scam.
Soon after Rahul attacked the government on Congress’ Foundation Day, the BJP alleged that he lived under the impression that his “lies” would be taken as truth if he repeated them daily and loudly.
Party’s national secretary Shrikant Sharma accused the Congress vice-president of doing ‘politics over death’, a reference to his criticism of demonetisation by pointing to deaths of people in queues outside banks and ATMs.
“Rahul Gandhi has been asking a lot of questions and levelling baseless allegations. He should also answer who in the UPA government were beneficiaries of 2G, CWG and VVIP chopper scams running into Rs 1.86 lakh crore, Rs 72,000 crore and Rs 3,200 crore respectively,” Sharma said at a press conference.