November 18th, 2016
The Supreme Court on Friday warned that there “may be riots” because of the serious situation that is prevailing in the country after the Government on announced reduction of exchange limit of old notes from Rs 4,500 to Rs 2,000.
A Bench of justices led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur said that people are becoming “frantic” for money, braving queues for hours. Coming down hard on the Central government, the court also refused its request to put on hold petitions pending in various high courts challenging the decision to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes that has led to a heavy demand for cash across the country.
The Bench mentioned that it can consider the plea only to the extent of transferring the cases to Delhi.
The hearing started on the issue of government scrapping the daily withdrawal limit from Rs 4,500 to Rs 2,000, even after the Supreme Court repeatedly asked the Centre to find measures to alleviate the woes of common man.
“They are going to the courts for relief. We cannot shut our doors to the people,” CJI Thakur said.
“We asked you to give some relief but you have reduced the exchange limit,” the court said, referring to the previous hearing when it asked the government to ensure that people were not inconvenienced.
“Is there a printing problem?” CJI Thakur asked attorney general Mukul Rohatgi.
However, Mr. Rohatgi, denied any “cash crunch”. He submitted that there was only trouble dispensing the newly printed currency from the mints to post offices, ATMs, banks across the country.
The Bench raised questions on why the government has failed to circulate enough cash, particularly Rs 100 notes. The high-value notes that have been made defunct accounted for 86% of the currency in circulation.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal submitted that 47 people have died post November 8, as an after effect of the demonetisation. The attorney general accused Kapil Sibal of politicising the court proceedings because of his affiliation to political party’s stand.
The SC asked Sibal to file documents substantiating his charges on inept handling of demonetisation and posted the matter for further hearing on November 25, 2016.