President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday gave his assent to the ordinance criminalising holding of Rs 500, Rs 1,000 currency notes from December 31 onwards. The Specified Bank Notes Cessation of Liabilities Ordinance, 2016 makes holding of the old currency notes, beyond a threshold amount, a criminal offence. In a statement on Friday, the Finance Ministry further said that holding, transferring or receiving of junked notes is illegal and punishable with imposition of penalty. “Non-resident Indians can exchange/deposit junked 500/1,000 rupee notes at specified RBI offices till June 30,” added the Finance Ministry.
Meanwhile, the government in a notification on Thursday dropped the harsher four-year jail term, while kept the minimum fine of Rs 10,000 intact. The Specified Bank Notes Cessation of Liabilities Ordinance, approved yesterday by the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, allows individuals to hold no more than 10 notes of the old currency.
The ordinance, however, allows people to deposit scrapped notes at select RBI branches until March 31. The three-month window, January 1-March 31, 2017, for deposit of old currency notes in specified offices of the RBI after submitting a declaration form will remain open, though it will be only for exigencies. Furnishing wrong information while depositing the old currency will attract a fine of Rs 5,000 or five times the amount.
While the high-denomination currency ceased to be a legal tender from midnight of November 8, 2016, a mere notification was thought to be not enough to end the central bank’s liability and rule out future litigations.
Government has made holding of more than 10 junked Rs 500/1000 notes a penal offence punishable with a minimum Rs 10,000 fine, but the harsher four-year jail term has been dropped. The Specified Bank Notes Cessation of Liabilities Ordinance, approved yesterday by the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, allows individuals to hold no more than 10 notes of the old currency. It allows 25 such currencies to be held by research scholars. Top sources said the ordinance, which will be sent to the President for his assent shortly, will come into effect from December 31. It provides for making holding of old 1,000 and 500 rupee notes after March 31 a criminal offence that will attract a fine of Rs 10,000 or five times the cash held, whichever is higher.