SC reserves verdict in pleas challenging Demonetisation policy

A five-judge bench led by Justice S Abdul Nazeer also directed the central government and RBI to place before it records pertaining to the decision in a sealed envelope for its perusal.
Image used for representational purpose only. (Express Illustrations)
Image used for representational purpose only. (Express Illustrations)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved a verdict in pleas challenging the Centre’s 2016 decision to demonetise Rs 500 and 1000 notes.

A five-judge bench led by Justice S Abdul Nazeer also directed the central government and RBI to place before it records pertaining to the decision in a sealed envelope for its perusal.

The plea had also challenged the validity of the notification dated November 8, 2016, issued under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 on the ground that it violated Articles 14, 19, 21 and 300A of the Constitution of India. On December 16, 2016, a three-judge bench of the SC refused to grant interim relief against the decision of demonetisation but had framed questions to be determined by a larger bench.

Appearing for the petitioners, Senior Advocate Shyam Divan in his rejoinder submissions had contended that demonetisation must have been carried out by the legislature and not by the executive. It was also his contention that the recommendation by the central board was a condition precedent.

Stressing on RBIs authority to advise the Union on matters of currency regulation, he added that the union’s demonetisation notification to which the RBI “meekly agreed” degraded RBI’s undisputed expertise. “Statutory guarantee cannot be diminished in terms of executive action,” he further added.

Laying emphasis on SC’s order of transferring all petitions before the lower courts to itself, he urged the court to pass general order granting relief to citizens as it was difficult for the citizens to individually approach SC.

Senior Advocate and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram had said the centre could act only pursuant to the recommendations made by the RBI central board.

"PM’s assurance said if you follow instructions, your money will remain yours. He has mentioned 50 days. Even if he had said that more time would be granted, no case was made out that promissory estoppel operates," said Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta on behalf of the RBI.

The submissions were also made by AG R Venkataramani for Central Government. Yesterday, Attorney General for India, R Venkataramani contended that the decision of demonetisation was taken to address three evils related to social policy.

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