No stay by Supreme Court on demonetisation of ₹ 1000 and ₹ 500 notes


The Supreme Court today (15 November 2016) declined to stay the Notification issued by the Central Government demonetizing ₹ 1000 and ₹ 500 currency notes. Moreover, the Supreme Court did not issue a formal notice to the Central Government or the Reserve Bank of India, but it merely asked the Central Government to file an affidavit giving details of the steps taken to ease inconvenience faced by people due to long queues at banks and ATMs.

That it would not grant a stay on the said notification was announced by a two-judge bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur and Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud while hearing four petitions against demonetization. This observation came from the Supreme Court when some counsel specifically requested for a stay.

The court was hearing four Public Interest Litigations (PILs) challenging the demonetisation of ₹ 1000 and ₹ 500 currency notes. These cases are: (1) W.P.(C) No. 906/2016 [VIVEK NARAYAN SHARMA Vs UNION OF INDIA]; (2) W.P.(C) No. 908/2016 [SANGAM LAL PANDEY Vs UNION OF INDIA AND ORS.]; (3) W.P.(C) No. 913/2016 [S. MUTHUKUMAR Vs UNION OF INDIA AND ANR.]; and W.P.(C) No. 916/2016 [ADIL ALVI Vs UNION OF INDIA AND ANR.].

As mentioned in an earlier article, it may be pointed out that a similar challenge in the Supreme Court to the demonetisation of the then existing currency notes of ₹ 1000, ₹ 5000 and ₹ 10000 in the year 1978, with effect from 16.01.1978, by the then Central Government headed by Prime Minister Morarji Desai, was rejected by a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court in the case of Jayantilal Ratanchand Shah v. Reserve Bank of India, (1996) 9 SCC 650 : AIR 1997 SC 370.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for one of the petitioners. He wanted the Centre to answer about the steps taken to remove public inconvenience.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi informed the court that the Government expects that black money worth about ₹ 4 to 5 lakh crore may be neutralised by the demonetisation of the currency notes and that the main purpose was to force those hoarding cash to deposit the same in bank and explain the source of money.

The court asked the Government to file an affidavit about the measures already undertaken by the Government and the RBI to minimise public inconvenience and also the future steps in this regard.

The case will now be heard on November 25.

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