The Supreme Court on Friday refused to tinker with the move to do away with the use of now-defunct high-value currency notes for public utilities, in government hospitals and for rail tickets but referred to a Constitution Bench the issue of validity of the government’s demonetisation decision.
The apex court, which framed nine issues for adjudication by a five-judge Constitution Bench for authoritative pronouncement on the government’s demonetisation decision, also refrained from making any amendment to the directive to limit weekly withdrawal at Rs 24,000.
It hoped that the government will “fulfil this commitment” to the extent possible keeping in mind the “hardships and sufferings” faced by the general public.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur, which declined to extend the exemptions on the demonetised currency notes of Rs 1000 and Rs 500, left it to the judgement of the government to review it hoping that it would be responsible and sensitive in dealing with it.
“Whether the use of demonetised currency notes would be extended or not, it is on the government of the day as it is the best judge. We hope that the government would be responsible and sensitive in dealing with it,” the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.
While examining the plea for passing directions to ease the inconvenience of the people on the contentions that banks were not allowing withdrawal of Rs 24,000 a week, the bench took note of the submissions of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that 50 days time of streamlining cash inflow has not been exhausted.
It also took into account the submission of the government that 40 per cent of the demonetised currency has been replaced with the pumping of new currency notes of Rs 2000 and Rs 500.
Taking this submissions on record, the bench said “no other directions can be given at this stage” and “we hope that the government will fulfil the commitment of Rs 24,000 withdrawal per week to the extent possible and review it periodically”.
The apex court also accepted the assurance given by the Attorney General that Rs 8,000 crore collected by district cooperative central banks (DCCBs) across the country between November 11 to 14 will be allowed to be exchanged with new currency notes as per the rules applicable to all banks.