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Published On: Fri, Nov 3rd, 2017

Govt. will not take any coercive action against those who couldn’t deposit old notes: Center tells SC

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notes_3080068gNEW DELHI : The government on Friday assured in the Supreme Court that it will not take any criminal action for possessing demonetised notes beyond December 31, 2016 against those who have approached the apex court.

These petitioners had approached the SC urging for an extension of the deadline to deposit demonetised notes in their possession.
Appearing before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal reassured the petitioners, but added that protection against criminal action would only extend to the demonetised money they have specifically mentioned in their petitions before the Supreme Court.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud said that besides raising their grievance, the petitioners could also assist the court in the adjudication of the challenge to the constitutional validity of the demonetisation decision.

Attorney General KK Venugopal said that the government will not take any coercive action against them for possessing demonetised currency and also those who were medically incapacitated. The SC bench said the Constitution Bench would also deal with the individual plea of those who could not deposit their currency notes during the window period provided by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Some petitioners claim that they have not challenged the constitutional validity of either certain provisions of the RBI Act and Centre’s November 8, 2016, notification, rather they want to deposit their demonetised currency notes. “Our hard-earned money has been confiscated without due process of law and without granting fair opportunity,” lawyer Pranav Sachdeva, appering for one of the petitioners said adding the Constitution bench be constituted as expeditiously as possible.
They cannot claim protection for other amounts they may possess, the government clarified. The petitioners, which include farmers from Maharashtra to the hospitalised and overseas citizens, urged the Supreme Court to direct the government to extend the deadline. However, the Bench said the demonetisation law is still constitutionally valid and the court cannot grant them any interim relief against the law.
The court allowed them to be impleaded before a Constitution Bench which will go into the very validity of the demonetisation law, saying they can address their grievances before that Bench. Lawyers representing the petitioners argued that they have been deprived of their “hard-earned money” without due prior notice.
The bench asked the petitioners to file two to three-page-long interlocutory applications in the pending petitions which would be dealt by the constitution bench later.It then disposed of individual petitions filed by 14 persons seeking permission to deposit currency notes on the ground that they could not deposit the notes with banks due to some unavoidable and compelling reasons.

The apex court had on December 16, last year referred to a Constitution Bench, the issue of validity of government’s decision to demonetise currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500. While holding that the challenge to November 8 notification was in the arena of “public importance” as complaints of inconvenience have been brought, it said there was a need for a direction for referring it to a larger bench for “authoritative pronouncement by five judges”. (With Agency Inputs ).

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