The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stop High Courts from entertaining petitions challenging the Centre’s demonetisation notification saying that people are seriously affected and doors of courts cannot be shut in a situation which “may lead to riots”.
While dubbing the long queues outside banks and post offices as a “serious issue”, the apex court expressed its reservation on the Centre’s plea seeking a direction that no other court in the country shall entertain petitions challenging the November 8 notification. “It is a serious issue which requires consideration,” a Bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice A R Dave said, while asking the parties to be ready with data and other issues in writing. “Some measures are required.
See the kind of problems people are facing. People have to go to the High Court. If we shut them from going to the High Court, how can we know the magnitude of the problem. People going to different courts indicates the magnitude of the problem,” the Bench said. It made the remarks as Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi submitted that any matter relating to challenge the demonetisation issue be heard by the apex court only.
The Bench said, “People are affected and they have the right to approach the courts. People are frantic. There may be riots.” Noting that there are difficulties, it asked the AG, “Can you (the Centre) dispute it.” The AG said there is no dispute, but the queues are getting shorter and even suggested that the CJI can himself go out during lunch and look at the queue.
At the outset, the Bench questioned the relief measures undertaken by the Centre saying, “Last time you said there will be relief for people in the coming days, but you have squeezed the exchange limit to `2,000 only.” “What is the difficulty?” the Bench asked Rohatgi.
The AG explained that after printing, the currency has to be moved to thousands of centres across the country and ATMs have to be re-calibrated. “There is no shortage of funds,” he said.
To questions from the Bench, the AG said `100 notes are in circulation and the ATMs needed to be re-calibrated to issue new `500 and `2,000 notes. When the Bench again asked what relief is in the offing, Rohatgi said the situation is monitored “day by day and hour by hour” and it is not a case where only one notification has been issued since November 8 but several to meet the varied situation after taking note of the suggestions.
First bypolls without 500 bucks in Assam
Post-demonetisation, the BJP-led NDA government will face its maiden test in the by-elections to one Lok Sabha and four Assembly constituencies in the Northeast on Saturday. According to industry sources, business in the region is down 50 per cent following the demonetisation of D500 and D1,000 notes. The parliamentary constituency going to the polls is Lakhimpur in Assam. The BJP has fielded sitting MLA, Pradan Baruah, in the seat. The Assembly constituencies going to polls are Baithalangso in Assam, Hayuliang in Arunachal Pradesh and Khowai and Barjala in Tripura — Prasanta Mazumdar