The Centre opposed on Friday petitions challenging its decision to go back on its promise of extending the date of depositing demonetised notes till March 31, saying as per the latest notification it’s a crime to be in possession of such currency.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the government would contest and there was no “question of giving in” and it was a crime to possess the old notes.
But, the court pointed to Rohatgi that there was a “window” provided for those who were unable to return the scrapped currency. ““What they (petitioners) are saying is that there was a window which was there in the first decision. He is saying the window was now closed in the ordinance,” the bench said.
“We want to make you alive to the situation,” the bench told Rohatgi who told the court he was ready to argue the matter and does not want time to file any official response.
At this the bench fixed March 21 to hear the petitions and refrained from issuing interim direction to the government to accept old currency from the petitioners, subject to the outcome of their cases. SC had on March 7 asked the government to explain why did it come out with the ordinance, penalising those depositing banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes after December 31.
A mother of recently-born twins and a widow are in the list of petitioners before the top court. They referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s November 8, 2016 speech announcing the demonetisation policy, and a subsequent notification that promised people would be able to deposit the old notes till March 31, 2017. However, from January onwards people could deposit their old banknotes only at select RBI centres.
Sudha Misra, who delivered two baby girls on November 4 last year – contended she could not deposit her old currency notes by December 31 because of her premature delivery.