Supreme Court questions Centre's plans for Demonetisation

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre whether the demonetisation decision was taken in absolute secrecy.

Supreme Court questions Centre

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre whether the demonetisation decision was taken in absolute secrecy.

"When you made the policy on demonetization? Was it confidential?' the apex court asked. The SC was hearing a batch of petitions and public interest litigations (PILs) challenging the demonetization policy of the Central government, which came into effect on the midnight of November 8.

The court caustically asked, "Can you put what you had estimated when you took the decision to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes? Did you make any estimation at all? Was there a plan? Or, did you take the decision just like that? If you had thought notes worth Rs 10 lakh crore would come back to the banks, did you take steps to urgently put in that much of

new currency back in circulation? Can you produce the Cabinet note before the decision was taken?"

Appearing on behalf of the petitioner, noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan told the Supreme Court that there was no preparation from the government to deal with the impending situation caused by demonetisation.

The government told the Supreme Court that the problems being faced by people will be over in "10-15 days".

Chief Justice of India TS Thakur asked the Centre as to why the order of granting limit of Rs 24,000 per day to a person had not been complied with.

Representing the government, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court that the government had taken all the necessary steps to ease inconveniences of the general public.

"There was no cash in ATMs, recalibration was not done well and cooperative banks were being discriminated against," Prashant Bhushan told the apex court.

The apex court had on November 18 refused to put a stay on hearings in various High Courts and lower courts related to the demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes.

Pushing back to the decision, Attorney General said, "There is serious reservation about maintainability of these PILs filed by advocates and cooperative banks against demonetisation. Can the SC decide fiscal policy of a government? Can it dictate what should be done and what should not be?

"The judiciary has stepped into the realm of fiscal policy. Can the court decide what should be the government's fiscal policy? It is not permissible. Please think about this. The situation is getting better and it will normalise after December 31. Which farmer or poor person has come to the court asking for relief or complaining about non-availability of cash? Most of the PILs are filed by lawyers and cooperative banks. Do lawyers represent the people?" the AG asked.

Several petitions were filed, including one by Vivek Narayan Sharma, against the demonetisation that has caused chaos across the nation. The petitioners have questioned the government's rationale and modus operandi behind the implementation of the policy as it has reportedly caused more than 90 deaths.

The Centre in its affidavit had told the apex court that demonetisation is a step to reduce the ratio of cash transactions, adding the objective is to unearth illegal parallel economy.