A vacation bench of the Bombay High Court has refused to entertain a petition that challenged demonetisation of currency notes of Rs 500 and 1000 by the Union government, saying the petitioners should move a regular bench after November 15 as it involved questions of law. The petition, filed by lawyers Jamshed Mistry and Jabbar Singh, urged the court on Wednesday to take suo motu cognisance of the government’s decision to scrap currency notes as it has caused inconvenience to the general public and alleged that the Centre had acted in “great haste”.
A vacation bench of Justice M S Karnik said the plea involved questions of law and asked the petitioners to move a regular bench after the Diwali vacation.
Mistry and Singh cited a November 2 notification of the Reserve Bank of India which had been sent to all the nationalised banks in which the apex bank had said as part of a ‘pilot project’ the banks must ensure that within the next 15 days at least ten per cent of their authorised ATM machines dispense currency of Rs 100 denomination.
The lawyers argued that the notification made it clear that the project was initiated on a pilot basis and therefore the Centre should not have rushed into it. He said the law has been already laid down wherein the government needs to come out with an ordinance first and then an Act.
Mistry said that in 1978, during the Emergency, the Ordinance followed by an Act called “the High Denomination Bank Notes Act”, 1978, was passed to bring demonetisation into effect.
Therefore, he said, the requirement is that the current demonetisation could have been done only through an Ordinance or amendment of the Act and not merely through a Gazetted notification.
The lawyers argued that merely giving four hours notice is not a notice at all and that one’s right to life and right to occupancy or to conduct business, as guaranteed under the Constitution, were severely affected.
However, the bench felt that they should move a regular bench after November 15 as the plea involved questions of law.
In the biggest-ever move to curb black money and crime funding, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes would become illegal tenders from Tuesday midnight and massively curbed cash withdrawals through ATMs and from bank counters.