Why can’t RBI accept scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes till 31 March, SC asks govt

A Supreme Court bench gave the government two weeks to file a response to a plea challenging the RBI’s refusal to accept demonetized Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes after 31 December 2016


RBI stated that old banknotes could be exchanged only by those who were not in India between 8 November and 31 December 2016. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
RBI stated that old banknotes could be exchanged only by those who were not in India between 8 November and 31 December 2016. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Centre to file a response to a plea challenging the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) refusal to accept demonetized Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes post 31 December, 2016.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) J.S. Khehar gave the government two weeks to file a response.

The petitioners—three individuals and Victory Logitrans Pvt. Ltd, a Bengaluru-based transport company—claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in his speech on 7 November said that any person who is unable to deposit the old banknotes before 31 December 2016 can do so at specific branches of RBI up to 31 March, 2017.

“The PM’s speech is irrelevant,” the government’s top law officer, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, said.

He argued that the statutory notification issued on 8 November, 2016 had been superseded by a later ordinance issued on 30 December.

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“The notification does not create any rights and is anyway replaced by the ordinance,” Rohatgi said.

“Everyone knew the PM’s speech but nobody saw the ordinance coming,” the court said in an oral observation.

In an earlier hearing, the government had sought to argue the case directly without filing a reply to claims made in the petition.

As per its ‘facility for exchange of specified bank notes during the grace period’ notification dated 31 December 2016, the RBI stated that old banknotes could be exchanged only by those who were not in India between 8 November and 31 December 2016.

It also fixed a Rs25,000 cap for non-resident Indians to deposit scrapped currency.

The case will be heard next on 11 April.

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