The Delhi High Court on Tuesday reserved its judgement on a plea challenging the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and State Bank of India (SBI) notifications that permit exchange of ₹2000 notes without any identity proof.
The RBI told the Delhi High Court that withdrawal of ₹2000 notes is not demonetisation but a statutory exercise, and the decision to enable their exchange was taken for operational convenience.
The court was hearing a plea by lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay that the notifications by the RBI and SBI enabling exchange of ₹2,000 notes without proof were arbitrary and against the laws enacted to curb corruption.
A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said it will pass an appropriate order on the public interest litigation by the lawyer. “We will look into it. We will pass an appropriate order,” said the court.
Also read: No form or identity proof needed to exchange ₹2,000 notes, says SBI as drive set to kick off
‘Not challenging move to withdraw’
Upadhyay clarified that he was not challenging the decision to withdraw ₹2,000 note but assailed the exchange of the currency without any slip or identity proof. He asserted that the exchange of ₹2,000 banknote should be allowed through deposit in bank account.
“Why is ID proof excluded? Every poor has a Jan Dhan account. BPL persons are also connected to bank accounts,” Upadhyay said while claiming that the present arrangement would only enable mafias and gangsters like “Atiq Ahmed’s henchmen” as well as Naxals.
Senior advocate Parag P Tripathi, for the RBI, emphasised that the court cannot interfere in such matters and the decision was taken to allow exchange of the ₹2,000 currency note for operational convenience.
“This is not demonetisation. ₹2,000 note was not commonly used. Other denominations continue to meet currency requirements,” he said. “This is a statutory exercise. None of the points claimed by the petitioner impinge or deal with constitutional issues,” Tripathi added.
“Arguments heard. Judgement reserved,” the court said after hearing the parties.
Also read: Most of the withdrawn ₹2,000 currency notes expected to return by Sep 30: RBI governor
‘Identify people having black money’
The petitioner has contended in his plea that notifications by the RBI and SBI enabling exchange of ₹2,000 notes without requisition slip and identity proof were arbitrary, irrational and offend Article 14 of the Constitution of India.
The petition has said that a large amount of the currency has reached either in individual’s locker or has been hoarded by the separatists, terrorists, Maoists, drug smugglers, mining mafias and corrupt people.
The petition has highlighted that cash transaction in high value currency is the main source of corruption and is used for illegal activities like terrorism, Naxalism, separatism, radicalism, gambling, smuggling, money laundering, kidnapping, extortion, bribing and dowry, etc. and the RBI and SBI should ensure that ₹2,000 banknotes are deposited in respective bank accounts only.
“Recently, it was announced by the Centre that every family should have Aadhaar card and bank account. Therefore, why RBI is permitting to exchange ₹2,000 banknotes without obtaining identity proof. It is also necessary to state that 80 crore people in BPL category receive free grains. It means 80 crore Indians rarely use ₹2,000 banknotes. Therefore, petitioner also seeks direction to RBI and SBI to take steps to ensure that ₹2,000 banknotes are deposited in bank account only,” the plea stated.
Depositing ₹2,000 currency notes in bank accounts would ensure that people having black money and disproportionate assets could be identified easily, the plea has said.
Also read: More query for gold after 2000-rupee note withdrawal, but no panic buying: Jewellers
₹2,000 notes continue to be legal tender
On May 19, the RBI had announced withdrawal of ₹2,000 currency notes from circulation, and said existing notes in circulation can either be deposited in bank accounts or exchanged by September 30.
The bank notes in ₹2,000 denomination will continue to be a legal tender, the RBI said in a statement. In order to ensure operational convenience and to avoid disruption of regular activities of bank branches, the RBI has said exchange of ₹2,000 bank notes into bank notes of other denominations can be made up to a limit of ₹20,000 at a time at any bank starting from May 23.
In a communication to chief general managers of all its local head offices, the SBI informed that the facility of exchange of ₹2,000 notes by public up to a limit of ₹20,000 at a time will be allowed without obtaining any requisition slip. “Further, no identity proof is required to be submitted by the tenderer at the time of exchange,” the communication dated May 20 said.
(With agency inputs)