Withdrawal of Rs 2,000 notes statutory exercise not demonetisation: RBI tells Delhi HC
The withdrawal of Rs 2,000 banknotes is a statutory exercise, not demonetisation, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) told the Delhi High Court on Tuesday.
The high court was hearing a petition challenging the decision by the RBI and SBI that enables the exchange of Rs 2,000 notes without the requirement of an identity proof. The plea filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay said the decision was arbitrary and against the laws enacted to curb corruption.
Responding to the plea, the RBI said the decision to enable the exchange of Rs 2,000 notes was taken for operational convenience as the withdrawal is not demonetisation but merely a “statutory exercise.”
In his plea, advocate Upadhyay said he wasn’t challenging the decision withdraw the Rs 2000 notes but the decision to exchange the said denomination without requiring any slip or identity proof. The petition argued that the exchange of currency should only be allowed through bank accounts linked with Aadhaar.
It claimed that the current arrangement would only enable mafia and gangsters like “Atiq Ahmed’s henchmen” and Maoists while arguing that today almost every poor person has a Jan Dhan account and BPL persons are also connected to bank accounts.
A Delhi HC bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramanium Prasad said an appropriate order will be passed on the plea.
Advocate Upadhyay claimed in his public interest litigation (PIL) that the notifications by the RBI and the State Bank of India (SBI) that enable the exchange of Rs 2000 notes without requiring a requisition slip and identity proof were arbitrary, irrational and offend Articles 14 of the Indian Constitution.
The PIL claimed that cash transaction in in high value currency is the main source of corruption and used for illegal activities like terrorism, naxalism, separatism, radicalism, gambling, smuggling, money laundering, kidnapping, extortion, bribing and dowry, etc. and 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 & corrupt people’.
RBI counsel, Senior advocate Parag P Tripathi argued that the emphasised that the court cannot interfere in such matters and the decision was taken to allow exchange of the Rs 2000 currency note for “operational convenience” as the said banknote is not commonly used and other denominations continue to meet currency requirements.
Advocate Tripathi said that no points mentioned by the petitioner impinge or deal with constitutional issues and as such the court cannot interfere.
On May 19, the RBI had announced withdrawal of Rs 2,000 currency notes from circulation, and said existing notes in circulation can either be deposited in bank accounts or exchanged by September 30.
However, the 2,000 notes will continue to be legal tender, it had said, adding that the notes can be exchanged for other denominations from any bank starting May 23, albeit with a limit of Rs. 20,000 per transaction.
Both the RBI and the SBI issued notifications stating that no requisition slip or identity proof is required for exchanging the Rs 2,000 notes.