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‘Can’t hear pleas of cooperative banks or grant relief’

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The Bombay High Court said it cannot hear the petitions filed by district co-operative banks on demonetisation issue or grant any relief to them, and asked the banks to get clarification from the Supreme Court on whether the high court can hear the pleas.

The Mumbai, Solapur, Nashik and Pune District Central Co-operative Banks have approached the high court challenging the RBI circular of November 14, restricting them from exchanging or depositing old currency notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000, which were declared as illegal tender under the government’s demonetisation move on November 8.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh informed a bench headed by Justice A S Oka that the Supreme Court had yesterday issued notices in the transfer petition filed by the Union government seeking for all matters on the demonetisation issue to be heard either by SC or any one HC.

“The order of the Supreme Court does not mention anything about refusal to stay proceedings in the high court,” Singh said.

V M Thorat, counsel for Solapur co-operative bank, argued that the apex court had orally refused to grant interim relief of stay on all the other petitions.

Justice Oka said refusal of relief by way of stay has not been mentioned in the SC order and hence the petitioners here will have to seek clarification on it.

“You (banks) can go get clarification from the apex court. If SC says there is no stay, then we will hear this matter. But till then it would not be proper for us to hear the petitions or grant any relief as the apex court is already seized of the issue,” Justice Oka said.

The court noted that the transfer petition is scheduled to come up for hearing before SC on December 2 and posted the banks’ petitions on December 5.

The Union government submitted an order issued by its Joint Secretary clarifying that the government was on the same page as that of RBI.

“The government and RBI are on the same page about restrictions imposed on the district co-operative banks. As per the circulars issued by both RBI and government, only state and urban co-operative banks are permitted to exchange or deposit old currency notes,” Singh said.

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