NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Centre as to why there was a change in its stand of RBI about depositing of old currency till March 31, which was promised earlier and asked whether government is considering another chance to deposit demonetised currency under Ordinance for people having genuine difficulty.
A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar asked government to explain in affidavit by April 11 why the window was given only to NRIs and Indians who travelled abroad and not to other citizens of the country.
The bench observed that when PM promised on Nov 8 speech that those with genuine difficulty to deposit demonetised notes by Dec 31 will get chance till Mar 31 then why there is change in their stance.
“PM's speech gave hope that those in difficulty will get a chance to deposit by Dec 31 and would get another chance till Mar 31 after explaining difficulty, but things have changed,” the bench observed.
Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi told the bench that, “PM's promise to extend grace period after Dec 30 for deposit of old notes was overriden by ordinance.”
“But this discretion is arbitrary, you cannot keep people in large” the bench remarked.
Earlier this month, the court had issued notice to Centre and RBI seeking their response on a PIL as to why demonetised notes were not accepted till March 31 as was promised.
The PIL stated that Prime Minister's address to the nation on demonetisation and subsequent notification of RBI’s devalued currency notes can be exchanged up to March 31, 2017 were valid assurances which stood breached by the ordinance.
The petitioner has referred to the Specified Bank Notes Cessation of Liabilities Ordinance and said it had breached the assurance.
However, the Ordinance said that only those who were abroad, the armed forces personnel posted in remote areas or others who can give valid reasons for not being able to deposit the cancelled notes at banks, can deposit the demonetised currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes till March 31 this year after the deadline expired on December 30, 2016.