Demonetisation: SC refuses to stay court proceedings in High Courts

SansadTV Bureau
A bank official applies indelible ink on the finger of a customer queued up for exchanging old currency notes at the Punjab National Bank in Chennai on 16 November 2016.

A bank official applies indelible ink on the finger of a customer queued up for exchanging old currency notes at the Punjab National Bank in Chennai on 16 November 2016.

The Supreme Court has refused Centre’s contention to stay the court proceedings on the issue of demonetisation pending before various high courts. The top court instead sought response of all the petitioners, who have challenged the demonetisation move in different high courts.

Several PILs have been filed in the High Courts across the country, with many claiming major public inconvenience post the Central government’s move to ban high denomination currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 on November 8.

“We don’t want to stay it. There are various issues. People may get immediate relief from the high courts,” the bench headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice L Nageswara Rao told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.

The court also asked the government counsel what steps it has taken to address the situation.

“We think you must have taken appropriate steps. What is the situation now? How much have you collected so far?.” The bench asked.

Mumbai: People stand in long queues outside a bank to exchange their old Rs 500 and 1000 notes in Bhiwandi, Mumbai in Wednesday, Nov 16, 2016. Photo - PTI

Mumbai: People stand in long queues outside a bank to exchange their old Rs 500 and 1000 notes in Bhiwandi, Mumbai in Wednesday, Nov 16, 2016.
Photo – PTI

Responding to it, the AG said the situation is “much better” and said, “More than Rs 6 lakh crores have been deposited so far… There is a big surge in digital use of money transaction.”

He also said the demonetisation move was aimed at removing the 70 years of “slush money” and the government is monitoring the situation day-by-day and hour-by-hour.

On the contention of public inconvenience due to heavy rush in banks and ATMs, the Attorney General apprised the bench that government has set up a committee which will take stock of the ground situation across the country on demonetisation move.

The bench has now fixed the matter for further hearing on December 2 and has directed the persons who are petitioners before different high courts to file their response on Centre’s transfer plea by then.

The issue had reached Supreme Court soon after the demonetisation notification by the government on November 8. The court had on November 18 dubbed as a “serious issue” the long queues outside banks and post offices. It had also expressed its reservation on the Centre’s plea seeking a direction that no other court in the country should entertain petitions challenging the government move.

The bench had questioned the relief measures undertaken by the Centre and asked why it had squeezed the exchange limit to Rs 2,000.

The apex court had on November 15 refused to stay the government’s demonetisation notification, but asked it to spell out the steps taken to minimise public inconvenience.

(With inputs from the PTI)