The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed a petition challenging the notifications enabling the exchange of Rs 2,000 denomination currency notes without any requisition slip and ID proof, saying it has been done to avoid inconvenience to citizens, and the court cannot sit as an appellate authority on a policy decision.
The high court maintained it cannot be said that the government's decision is perverse or arbitrary or it encourages black money, money laundering, profiteering or abets corruption.
A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said this is purely a policy decision of the government and courts should not sit as an appellate authority over the decision taken by the government.
The high court said the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is devoid of merits and dismissed the petition filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay who challenged the notifications by the RBI and SBI enabling the exchange of Rs 2,000 banknotes without requisition slip and identity proof.
Rs 2000 notes hoarded by separatists, terrorists, Maoists
The petitioner had claimed a large amount of currency notes had reached either an individual's locker or had been hoarded by separatists, terrorists, Maoists, drug smugglers, mining mafias and corrupt people.
The plea asserted the notifications were arbitrary, irrational and offended Article 14 of the Constitution (equality before the law).
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) defended before the high court its notification, saying it is not demonetisation but a statutory exercise. It said the decision was taken to allow the exchange of Rs 2,000 denomination currency notes for operational convenience and the court cannot interfere in such matters. Upadhyay had clarified that he was not challenging the decision to withdraw the Rs 2,000 banknote but assailed the exchange of the currency without any slip or identity proof.
Why govt bought Rs 2000 currency note in 2016?
It is worth noting the RBI had announced the withdrawal of Rs 2,000 currency notes from circulation and said existing notes in circulation can either be deposited in bank accounts or exchanged by September 30.
The banknotes in Rs 2,000 denomination will, however, continue to be legal tender, the RBI clarified in a statement.
The high court, in its judgement, said the government’s decision is only to withdraw Rs 2,000 denomination banknotes from circulation for the reason that the purpose of issuing these notes has been achieved, which was to meet the currency requirement of the economy expeditiously in November 2016 when all Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination banknotes ceased to remain legal tender.
To meet the situation at that point in time, the government decided to bring banknotes of Rs 2,000 denomination to ensure an adequate supply of money to meet the day-to-day requirements of the people, it said.
Mission of publishing Rs 2000 accomplished
“Six years after the said decision, the government has now decided to withdraw Rs 2,000 denomination banknotes from circulation which is not being used commonly. Banknotes of Rs 2,000 shall continue to be legal tender and this policy is only for the exchange of banknotes having a denomination of Rs 2,000 with other banknotes.
“In order to facilitate the exchange of Rs 2,000 denomination banknotes with other denomination banknotes, the government has given a window of four months to the citizens and in order to avoid inconvenience to citizens, the government is not insisting on providing any kind of identification,” the high court said.
(With inputs from PTI)