Govt gets judicial rap over demonetisation: Calcutta HC says no homework done, SC sees a crisis

Kolkata bench asks Centre for report on measures to ‘alleviate suffering’; CJI-bench declines to stay hearings

By: Express News Service | Kolkata/new Delhi | Updated: November 19, 2016 7:36 am
demonetisation, modi, modi govt, black money, corruption, Venkaiah Naidu, bjp, nda, bjp meet, high value currency, indian express The court asked all parties to be ready with data and other issues in writing. (AP Photo)

The demonetisation of notes of higher denomination came under scrutiny of the courts Friday with the Calcutta High Court seeking a report from the government on steps taken to “alleviate the sufferings of common people”, and pulling up the Centre for not applying its “mind properly”, doing “no homework” and “changing procedure” everyday.

The Supreme Court, while observing that long queues outside banks and post offices was “a serious issue” and a reflection of the “crisis”, refused to pass any immediate order to state high courts and other courts not to hear demonetisation-related cases.

Questioning the steps taken by the Centre, the bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice A R Dave told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi: “Last time you said there will be relief for people in the coming days but you have squeezed the exchange limit to Rs 2,000 only. What is the difficulty?… It is a serious issue which requires consideration.”

The court asked all parties to be ready with data and other issues in writing. “Some measures are required. See the kind of problems people are facing. It is a crisis. People have to go to the high court. If we shut them from going to the high court, how can we know the magnitude of the problem. People going to different courts indicates the magnitude of the problem,” the bench said.

The Calcutta High Court, hearing a public interest litigation, observed that it appeared the government had made the demonetisation move without sufficient “homework”.

Observing “we cannot change government policy but lack of sincerity of bank employees is there,” the bench of Chief Justice Girish Chandra Gupta and Justice Arindam Sinha underlined the need for “some measures to alleviate the sufferings of the common people”, particularly for those who are ill or have urgency, so that “medical institutions, private and public transport — rail, air, bus — and also essential commodities” are not affected.

Ramaprasad Sarkar, the petitioner who is an advocate, later said: “The court told the advocate for the central government that they need to submit, in writing, the steps taken by them before the bench by November 25.”

Meanwhile, the bench also admitted a PIL by seven persons with serious disabilities who sought modification in the notification announcing demonetisation. Counsel Akbar Ali said the notification should be changed allowing “authorised representative” of a person with disability to exchange currency. He said the matter will be heard on November 25.

In the Supreme Court, when Attorney General Rohatgi pressed the Centre’s plea, the bench of CJI Thakur and Justice Dave said, “Ordinary people are affected. People are frantic. People have the right to approach courts.” Asking the Centre to see the difficulties, the bench said, “Can you (the Centre) dispute?”

To this, Rohatgi said there was no dispute, but claimed that the queues outside banks were getting shorter. He even urged the CJI to go out during lunch and take a look at the queues.

The hearing witnessed a sharp exchange of words between Rohatgi and former Law Minister Kapil Sibal, who was appearing against the Centre, with the Attorney General accusing Sibal of exaggerating the problem.

“It’s a political attempt in court. I have seen your (Sibal’s) press conference also. You are not appearing for a political party, but for an advocate. You are turning the apex court into a political platform,” Rohatgi said. To this, Sibal replied, “Was my press conference held in court? Then why bring it here.”

Rohatgi claimed there was no shortage of cash. “After printing, the currency has to be moved to thousands of centres across the country and ATMs have to be re-calibrated to issue new currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000,” he said.

While the Attorney General was listing steps taken by the government, Sibal intervened and said the problem was of printing. “They (Centre) need to print Rs 23 lakh crore but they do not have the capacity to do that. Already, they have frozen Rs 14,000 crore and it is not clear under which law they have done so,” he said, pointing out that it was a serious situation where people cannot withdraw “their own taxed money”.

“They are trustees, how can they not let us withdraw our legitimate money,” asked Sibal, adding that “the situation has turned from bad to worse”. He accused the government of not being concerned about problems being faced by people living in remote areas of the North-East, Himachal Pradesh and areas like Bastar where people have to walk for 20 km to reach an ATM.

Realising that the bench was not going to entertain the Centre’s application seeking directions to courts not to hear demonetisation-related cases, the Attorney General said, “We will file a transfer petition”. The matter will now be heard on November 25.

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First Published on: November 19, 2016 2:45 am
  1. A
    Abhinav Gour
    Nov 19, 2016 at 3:31 am
    I don't understand what business do the courts have to start interfering in Executive matters ( demonetization). Why can't they focus on clearing backlog of cases instead to commenting the preparedness of the government. The media and opposition are anyway doing that. We all not need to support what the government is doing.
    Reply
    1. O
      Onkar Singh
      Nov 19, 2016 at 6:39 am
      It the country men who save the Muslims not Modi,dont be under the wrong impression,and it's that community which is saving itself.If Modi is saving them,why did he not control the Gujrat riots?You want to befool yourself it's your privilege!
      Reply
      1. O
        Onkar Singh
        Nov 19, 2016 at 6:27 am
        The thousands of crores Modi spent on his election campaign,was it white money?from did he get that money?The educated are themselves to be blamed if they think Modi is against black money.Now articles are appearing,the money he received from the house of Birlas and Sahara before the run up to the 2014 election.So those politicians who have changed their money are sleeping soundly whereas the poor are in the lurch.This if the educated can't see through and when a still bigger crisis comes up they will have only themselves to blame.Its an unprecedented financial crisis,the consequences will unfold slowly,and the tragedy will reflect it was the poor and the downtrodden who have suffered the most and not Modi and his crony capitalist friends.Think.Think.Those who are feeling nothing is wrong!!
        Reply
        1. C
          Chander Pal
          Nov 19, 2016 at 9:32 am
          Except for a handful of anti Modi Ordinary Leftists, citizens are quite happy. Yes one should not believe negative Coverage of ndtv. Views of judiciary is out of sync with reality.
          Reply
          1. J
            Jayo khan
            Nov 19, 2016 at 12:54 am
            Altogether what govt got from demonetization process . poor standing in queues and richman eating cakes lavishly.
            Reply
            1. J
              Jayo khan
              Nov 19, 2016 at 12:49 am
              Apex court let me tell you a simple example as per figures given by govt. The govt says that out of 17 trillion cash float total in system only 3 trillion will not show up or will be destro that makes it 18% . so black money. Holder only loss is 18% and not entire amount.
              Reply
              1. J
                Jayo khan
                Nov 19, 2016 at 12:46 am
                Apex court pls reply . why the tax rate in process of demonetization is at the rate of 18% while the national average is 30% and when black money disclosure amnesty was floated few months back it was more then 40%.
                Reply
                1. J
                  Jayo khan
                  Nov 19, 2016 at 12:43 am
                  Apex court pls reply to my qs . as to why builders ,jewellers ate accepting old cash as surve by I.t dept. Why didn't the I.t dept raid all those cronies
                  Reply
                  1. J
                    Jayo khan
                    Nov 19, 2016 at 12:52 am
                    As per raid conducted in noida the I.t dept unearthed a modus opei of builder s and jewellers still accepting old cash notes as they keep cash in hand for their business day to day work. This makes them easy to convert and deposit old notes in bank with ease. They are allowed to do so by tax authorities itself . so big sharks escaped and poor got hanged
                    Reply
                    1. J
                      Jayo khan
                      Nov 19, 2016 at 2:12 am
                      How many trees will be axed to print new currency . when that land becomes Barron will land dvellopers apply for that at cheaper rate.
                      Reply
                      1. J
                        Jayo khan
                        Nov 19, 2016 at 4:01 am
                        Politician from all walks of country should go for fasting till DEC 30th. Suffering of netizens should not go waste
                        Reply
                        1. J
                          Jayo khan
                          Nov 19, 2016 at 3:44 am
                          See the full procedure was not sound or leakproof. For demonetization govt need a cabinet meeting first , then matter goes to fm , then FM consults RBI for the purpose. RBI holds board meet on this . if approved then matter is given green signal from RBI to govt . RBI subsequently informs cmd ofbbank s. So howccan govt says information was not leaked before.
                          Reply
                          1. J
                            Joshi
                            Nov 19, 2016 at 3:49 am
                            Judiciary is protecting rights of citizens which is its job. Modi has overstepped his powers. He has no regard for 55 people who have died so far. This madness must end now.
                            Reply
                            1. S
                              Satendra kumar
                              Nov 19, 2016 at 2:43 am
                              The Supreme Court should respect the central government implemention of central government policies on demonetisation not making biased decision itself regarding the timeframe the people ask for as demonetisation process is taking place..
                              Reply
                              1. K
                                Kumar
                                Nov 19, 2016 at 12:51 am
                                People must rise before too late. Hypocrite Modi is hungry for power and could soon bring emergency since all his plans failing.
                                Reply
                                1. M
                                  Mayank
                                  Nov 19, 2016 at 4:12 am
                                  BJP and RSS game sponsored by Corporates like Ambani and adani will soon be over with dismantling of BJP pretty soon. Only BJP Agents and paid trolls support Modi's Formula rest of Nation is in pain and SC has no choice bu to intervene.
                                  Reply
                                  1. P
                                    Psedodemocracy
                                    Nov 19, 2016 at 2:56 am
                                    You are anti national. Go to stan. India is now a kingdom . We all have to bow down to Kings orders . Do you understand anti nationals. If you don't my men will get you and teach you a lesson. Welcome to a new India of dictatorship in disguise of democracy
                                    Reply
                                    1. R
                                      Raman
                                      Nov 19, 2016 at 5:28 am
                                      Judiciary, SC and High Court can tolerate for a limited time and they have to take action to end the suffering of people. Their patience wanning thin.
                                      Reply
                                      1. T
                                        Tony
                                        Nov 19, 2016 at 1:50 am
                                        Do you think SC or HC judges not have black money ....
                                        Reply
                                        1. D
                                          Deepak
                                          Nov 18, 2016 at 10:38 pm
                                          Strong measures need to be take by Supreme Court. This is sheer stupidity and no planning on part of GOI. WHO IS GOI TO TELL ME HOW SHOULD I KEEP MY MONEY AND where should i keep it and Its my right to give cash payments or pay through a cheque or credit card. There is no law which says you cant have X amount of money at home. Congress used to loot lands, BJP loots cash. I understand the need to curb black money and terror financiers but the method they have emplo only suggests that GOI has failed in its policies to get the information for its own Agencies. 50 people have reportedly died due to this, thousand of labrours have been left jobless, because they could not catch a few they have turned against everybody. Stock markets which trade in white money have crashed, Shopkeeprs are sitting idle, daily wagers are hungry and MODI is talking his EGO and not thinking on the correct lines. Does it expect a thele wala to use PAYTM or credit card? Who is going to pay his internet and electricity bill? lt;br/gt;Can current GOI promise that next govt will not do the same demonetization? There is a process which needs to be followed and GOI did not do that. lt;br/gt;I voted for Modi and will probably do it again but only if he fixes the mess he has left us in.
                                          Reply
                                          1. K
                                            Kuch bhi
                                            Nov 19, 2016 at 8:29 am
                                            Although de-mon good move, govt poor on planning. How will it recompense small traders who are severely affected due to this move?
                                            Reply
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