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How a Maharashtra farmer caught in demonetisation net got SC relief

On July 4, Supreme Court asked the Centre and Reserve Bank of India to allow people one last chance to deposit the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bills.

india Updated: Jul 06, 2017 00:03 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Agrarian crisis,Indian farmer,Demonetisation
Farmers, daily wage workers bore the brunt of the demonetisation period. Confusion in deposit windows, deadlines and amounts made the process complicated for most.(HT File Photo)

When Ajit Yadav, a farmer from Parbhani district in Marathwada region sold 170 quintals of soybean for Rs 4.60 lakh on November 7 last year, little did he know that his money would become worthless after demonetisation.

But Yadav heaved a sigh of relief on July 4 when the Supreme Court asked the Centre and Reserve Bank of India to allow people one last chance to deposit the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bills.

Yadav and his friend, also a farmer, Ganesh Nirvahe, filed a Public Interest Litigation in the apex court on how the common man was at the receiving end of the Modi government’s demonetisation decision. Six other PILs were also filed, seeking extension to deposit old notes.

“I got cash from the sale of soybean on November 7 (last year). On November 9, PM Modi scrapped old notes and two days later after having borrowed a car, I was heading to the bank to deposit these notes. A detour for my friend at Gangakhed taluka nearby, where campaigning for local council elections was underway, led to inspection of our car and seizure of the cash by the local election commission officials,” said Yadav, who owns 6 hectares in Parbhani district.

The seized cash — including the money from selling soybean and Yadav friend Nirvahe’s cash (Rs 35,000) — was finally returned to them after an inquiry and a hearing by income tax officials in Aurangabad on January 9. The deadline for depositing old notes was December 30, 2016.

“We went for a hearing where I showed the receipts of soybean sale at Prabhani’s Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee on December 11. But by the time the order for releasing our money was issued and finally reached the local election commission office, it was too late. I was still not worried because I remembered PM saying there would be an opportunity until March 31,” said Yadav.

For three days, Yadav and his friend camped at the RBI office in Mumbai in January to exchange the old currency but were turned away. They were told that only a court order could help them now. After this, they approached advocate Dilip Taur to file a PIL.

“I think many citizens relied on Prime Minister Modi’s announcement on November 8 as well as the RBI notification issued later that day that an opportunity would be given until March 31 if for some reason citizens failed to deposit their notes until December 30. In the case of my petitioners, they are being penalised for not depositing money that was not with them but with government apparatus,” said Taur.

He further said the RBI issued a notification again on December 30 stating that the opportunity would be only given to those who were outside the country during that time.

Since Tuesday, Taur has received several phone calls from Maharashtra farmers about their stashed old bank notes.

For Yadav, the loss has had a cascading effect on sowing this year. He managed to sow soybean crop on his 12 acres on June 7 after raising some credit but the entire crop failed due to less rain last month, wiping out Rs 45,000 of initial investment. But he said he is still hopeful of exchanging his old notes to sow cotton next.

First Published: Jul 06, 2017 00:00 IST