We Will Have Riots, Countrywide Situation after Notes Ban Serious: SC

SC says no to stay on demonetisation challenge in lower courts

Image: Indian Express

For the second time in a week, the centre faced tough questions on the notes ban from the Supreme Court, which warned the Modi government on Friday: "We will have riots on the streets." Chief Justice of India TS Thakur said petitions challenging the ban on Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes indicate the magnitude of the problem.

"You have scrapped 500 and 1,000, but what happened to the 100 rupee note?" the Chief Justice asked the government, referring to the daily scramble for cash across the country and the punishing queues outside banks and ATMs. The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay, for now, the petitions against demonetisation pending before different High Courts and subordinate courts.

“It indicates the magnitude of the problem is serious. People are going to the High Courts for relief. This is a serious issue. Let them go,” said a bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Anil R. Dave as Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi urged the apex court to stay all such proceeding in High Courts and subordinate courts.
In a weak defence that revealed in itself how the impact of such a hasty move ought to have been more thoroughly planned, the government admitted that delays were being caused because ATMs needed to be recalibrated because they have a "single drawer" for Rs. 100 notes. For thousands, this has meant that cash dried up long before they could reach the top of the line after several hours. Why then was this not anticipated on the night of November 8 when the prime minister dramatically announced the de-monetization?

The court had more questions on the currency ban announced suddenly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8 to check tax evasion and black or untaxed money. "The last time you said you are working out relief but you have reduced the withdrawal amount to 2,000. What's the problem? Is it a printing problem?" Justice Thakur asked the government.

The government earlier this week reduced the Rs. 4,500 limit for the exchange of notes at banks to Rs. 2,000, saying it would enable more people to get cash.Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said: "Not only printing… it has to be transported to lakhs of branches across the country and ATMs have to re-calibrated."
The SC adjourned the matter to November 25. The court asked the Attorney General to move transfer petitions, which the court will consider.Mr Rohatgi added that the government did grant relief to farmers, families planning weddings and small traders.

Representing one of the petitioners, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, a senior Congress leader, alleged that people in villages and in the northeastern states are unable to withdraw money.
Carpet Bombing Our Own People
“You (Centre) can have a surgical strike against blackmoney but you cannot have surgical strike against the people of the country,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice D Y Chandrachud said, pointing to the long queues at banks and ATMs.
“Carpenters, maids, vegetable sellers are dependent on cash. Are you capable of reducing their trauma? Your aim is to wipe out blackmoney but people are traumatised standing in queues for hours doing nothing,” the bench said. This is akin to carpet bombing our own people, it was observed.



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