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SC refuses to pass interim order on note ban, but frames 9 questions for govt

black money crackdown Updated: Dec 16, 2016 21:30 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times
Demonetisation,Supreme Court,Narendra Modi government

The Supreme Court refused to pass any interim order extending exemptions permitting the use of scrapped currency notes for essential services, even medical, and left it to the Centre to take the call. (Sunil Ghosh/HT Photo)

The Supreme Court refused on Friday to interfere with the demonetisation drive, but framed nine questions for the Narendra Modi government and referred them to a five-judge constitution bench.

Also, it declined to direct the government to fix a cash withdrawal limit for people and extend the timeframe for the use of demonetised 500- and 1,000-rupee notes to pay hospital bills or book railway tickets. The old notes could be used for certain public utilities till Thursday.

“We recommend the government to fulfill is commitment with regard to the notification on withdrawal limit,” a bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur said.

Read: Demonetisation woes: HT’s photo of old man crying in a bank touches a raw nerve

The government had fixed Rs 24,000 as the weekly withdrawal limit for a person.

Acting on petitions challenging the decision to scrap the two high-value notes, the top court asked the government to respond to nine questions referred to a constitution bench. Besides, it restrained high courts from hearing petitions on demonetisation, saying only the top court will hear them.

It gave no relief to district co-operative banks that were not allowed to collect scrapped notes.

The government’s surprise move to recall 86% of cash in circulation triggered an unprecedented notes crunch, leaving millions of people lining up at banks and ATM kiosks for more than a month.

Read: Demonetisation has killed 100 people, alleges Mamata

New notes with a total value of Rs 5 lakh crore were infused into the system, but the money was way short to meet the demand of a cash-driven economy.

The court had wondered if bank officials pocketed the new notes.

“So your five lakh crore has gone this way. You are not able to secure it?” the bench asked on Thursday after attorney general Mukul Rohatgi pointed to fraud by certain bank officials.

The court reminded the attorney general that people were unable to withdraw the promised amount of

Rs 24,000 but some people are getting crores in new notes.

“How is somebody able to get so much money?” it asked him.

First Published: Dec 16, 2016 16:16 IST