Demonetised notes as evidence: Courts clueless what to do

There is an urgent need for the RBI to issue a notification giving clarity to the courts while dealing with old high tender notes in graft cases, says an NLS student.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 28, 2016 7:59 pm
The cash in old notes recovered from a hotel in Karol Bagh in Delhi There is an urgent need for the RBI to issue a notification giving clarity to the courts while dealing with old high tender notes in graft cases, says an NLS student. (representational image)

With the five-judge Constitutional Bench formed by the Supreme Court yet to take a call on the constitutionality of the November 8 demonetisation notification issued by the RBI, lower courts, meanwhile, are clueless when it comes to dealing with cases in which the scrapped Rs 500 notes and Rs 1000 notes form a clinching part of the evidence. With no ground rules set by the apex court or the Law Ministry, the courts have no guidelines to lean on when it comes to scrutinising “marked bills”.

“Under the PC Act, one of the most common methods of generating evidence is via laying a trap for the accused,” NLS student Utkarsh Sonkar writes in LiveLaw. In most graft cases, authorities mark the notes using phenolphthalein powder and offer them as bribe to the accused. The standard practice is that the police or tax authorities organise a raid on the person in question and wash the accused’s hands in a solution of sodium carbide.

“The coloration of the solution i.e, it turning pink indicates that the accused has handled currency notes,” Utkarsh notes.

The cash is then seized as evidence against the accused. The court needs to match the evidence with the serial numbers of the currency mentioned in the police chargesheet. The court also scrutinises the presence of phenolphthalein powder on the notes.

Now, the parties who provided the authorities with the currency notes have moved pleas, requesting the courts to allow them to convert the old notes before the deadline set by the RBI for depositing all demonetised currency. This would amount to destruction of crucial evidence against the accused.

Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Utkarsh Sonkar says there is an urgent need for the RBI to issue a notification giving clarity to the courts while dealing with old high tender notes in graft cases. So far, Sonkar says that he has written to the Law Ministry, Finance Ministry and Prime Minister Office to highlight the issue.

You read the full piece here: http://www.livelaw.in/demonetised-currency-evidence-problems-judicial-frontiers/

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