Holding scrapped currency notes beyond December 31 ‘illegal’: Centre to SC

New Delhi, (IANS): Holding scrapped currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 after the deadline of December 31 is “illegal”, the central government told the Supreme Court on Friday.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, made the submission before the bench of Chief Justice J.S. Khehar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice S.K. Kaul that government will contest petitions against the demonetisation ordinance.

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Rohatgi opposed a batch of pleas seeking order to the government to allow individuals and companies to deposit their scrapped currency notes without any prejudice.

The counsel appearing for the petitioners urged the court that no action should be taken against them for possessing the banned currency notes.

Posting the matter for March 21, the bench said: “If required, we will extend the date.”

The court was hearing a batch of PILs alleging that people are not being allowed to deposit the demonetised notes till March 31, as promised by the government.

The petitions alleged that the government was breaching the promises made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi made on November 8, 2016, while declaring that the high-value currency notes were “legally not valid”.

“Prime Minister’s speech and the subsequent notification on demonetisation had assured that a person shall be able to deposit the notes in special circumstances till March 31, 2017, but in its Ordinance in December 2016, the government has failed to mention it,” one of the petitioners told the bench.

A woman said she could not deposit the scrapped currency notes as she was pregnant at that time and that she intended to do so after giving birth to her child.

She said: “The confusion regarding the old notes and its validity as a legal tender amongst the respondents (government) is a definite example of ‘bad governance’, which is resulting in harassment of the common people at large.”

She said the government and the RBI took away that opportunity from her by subsequently restricting the grace period until March 31 to only NRIs and Indians who were abroad in November and December.

Several petitions were filed by companies and individuals over the government going back on its decision to extend the date of depositing demonetised notes till March 31.