Supreme Court to decide on pleas against note ban on January 2, 1st day after winter break | India News


NEW DELHI: A five-judge Supreme Court Constitution bench will on January 2, the first day of business after winter breakdeliver its judgment on a bunch of petitions which had challenged the Union government’s November 8, 2016 decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.
All 58 petitions are listed for judgment on January 2 before a bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer, BR Gavai, AS Bopanna, V Ramasubramanian and BV Nagarathna. Most petitions challenged the validity of demonetisation while some sought a fresh window for exchanging scrapped notes which could not be exchanged within the deadline.
The list of business on that day reveals that there would be two judgments, one by Justice Gavai and the other by Justice Nagarathna, both of whom would become CJI in 2025 and 2027 respectively. Whether the judgments are concurrent or there is a split verdict is not known.
The bench had reserved its verdict on December 7 and had to deliver the decision before retirement of Justice Nazeer on January 4.
The bench had dropped loud hints, during hearings between November 24 and December 7, that the judicial scrutiny of the government’s decision to demonetise may not involve scrapping it as the clock cannot be turned back after five years. However, it had said that the elaborate arguments advanced by the petitioners as well as the government on aspects of the procedure and provisions of RBI Act may persuade it to lay down guidelines for such exercises in future.
On the plea of some of the petitioners seeking exchange of demonetised currency notes, the Centre through attorney general R Venkataramani had conveyed to the SC that it was opposed to opening any new window for exchange of demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currencies with new bank notes as that would lead to endless uncertainties and backdoor entry of illegal monies.
The AG had also expressed the Centre’s opposition to the SC laying down demonetisation guidelines for the future, arguing that in matters of economic policy, the SC would be slow in undertaking a process of scrutiny and should defer to the wisdom of policy-makers.
Venkataramani had said, “The court will not grant declarations in the abstract or for mere guidance, when no tangible relief or remedy can be effectively granted by way of putting the clock back which is called unscrambling the scrambled egg. It is to be kept in mind that the asserted impacts on individuals are not of enduring or continuing nature, but they have come to an end.”
For the petitioners, senior advocate P Chidambaram had argued that arbitrary withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes, which constituted more than 86% of currency notes in circulation, was severely flawed resulting in untold miseries and hardships to the people.
He had argued that the government reversed the process of approval and asked the RBI to recommend demonetisation. “The RBI board, without its independent directors, met hurriedly on November 8 evening, and recommended demonetisation within one and half hours. A waiting cabinet then passed it without any discussion and the PM went on TV to announce the dreaded decision,” he had alleged.


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