A plea was Wednesday filed in Supreme Court seeking quashing of the Narendra Modi government’s decision to demonetise Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes on grounds that it infringed on citizens’ right to life and to trade, among others. The PIL, which could be listed for hearing during the week, termed yesterday’s notification of Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, as “dictatorial” claiming it did not grant reasonable time to citizens for exchanging the specified bank notes to legitimate notes to avoid “large scale mayhem, life threating difficulties”.
The plea, filed by Delhi-based lawyer Vivek Narayan Sharma, has sought either quashing of the notification or a direction to the Centre for grant of “reasonable time frame” to citizens for exchanging the demonetised currency notes to avoid difficulties.
“Because constitutional ‘Right to Life’ and ‘Right to Trade’ of all the citizens of India is being infringed by Respondent due to unreasonable, unmethodical and dictatorial manner of implementing the said Scheme. Respondent has failed to follow constitutional rule of law, adherence to principles of natural justice and provide sufficient time to citizens of India to prepare for such phasing out of specified bank notes.
“As a result the lives, livelihood, existence, business, trade and education etc. of billions of citizens shall get affected, in innumerable, uncalculated and uncountable ways.
“The implementation of phasing out of specified bank notes, overnight, fails the test of reasonableness and care for its citizens by the Respondent Government,” the PIL said.
The Prime Minister, in a televised address to the nation, declared that high denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 will no longer be legal tender from last midnight. He said that the Government has declared a “decisive” war against black money and corruption.
The plea, referring to news reports, said demonetisationof Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes would mean more than Rs 15 lakh crore worth of high-value legal tender being withdrawn from circulation.
It, however, said the petitioner was not against the scheme of phasing out of specified bank notes, but against the manner of its implementation as it has created “panic and Emergency-like situation all around India”.
“… 1.25 billion of citizens are going to be clueless about running their day-to-day life till the time the transition from specified bank notes to new bank notes takes place. The whole chain of transaction will be affected, making people worry more about procuring money, leaving them standing in line, in banks, to obtain legitimate currency notes and affect their work & trade,” the plea said.
In the next few weeks or may be months, almost all citizens of India are going to face grave harassment in almost every small day-to-day affair and “elementary services like hospitals payments, schools fees payments, toll fees payments, out-station hotel payments, labour payments, local transport payments, buying of essential items like grocery, clothes, pollutions masks, air cleaner, winter clothes, kids care items, old-age care items etc”, it said.
Referring to an RBI report, the PIL said “out of the total Rs 16.42 lakh crore value of bank notes in circulation as on March 31, 2016, as much as Rs 14.18 lakh crore, i.e. over 86 per cent, consisted of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.”
The decision would lead into large queues in banks and post offices and even ordinary purchases of vegetables and other essentials in markets are going to be impacted badly, it said.