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Supreme Court refuses to stay demonetization, indelible ink to be used to exchange notes

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay the November 8 government notification demonetising Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency and asked the Centre to take immediate measures to alleviate the hardships and sufferings of the traumatised common man who is “forced” to stand in queues to withdraw a little bit of his own hard-earned money. However, the government also decided to introduce a system of marking customers exchanging defunct currency notes with indelible ink.

“Tell us, instead of forcing citizens to stand in queues for his own money… and it is traumatic for people to stand in lines for hours doing nothing, why can’t you raise their cash withdrawal limit to a reasonable limit?” Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, who presided over a Bench that comprised Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, questioned the Centre.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for one of the petitioners, however, said he was not asking for a stay on the notification but seeking answers from the government about the steps taken to remove public inconvenience.

The bench asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to file an affidavit about the measures already undertaken by the government and the RBI to minimise public inconvenience and also the steps likely to be undertaken in future.

Without issuing any notice to the Centre or the RBI, the bench posted the matter for further hearing on November 25.

Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das, in a press meet on Tuesday said indelible ink would be used at banks to identify people who exchange notes. He also announced the the formation of a Special Task Force to monitor the infusion of fake currency in the market, especially in the vulnerable areas of the country. He pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the supply of currency for the second time in two days on Monday night.

Das also cautioned against believing messages on social media. “There are a lot of stories on social media, like reports of certain institutions going on strike. On zooming into the picture, it was found to be from 2015. There is no such thing (strikes), please don’t believe it,” Das said.

“It has come to notice of the government that in many places the same people are coming back again and again and we have also received reports that certain unscrupulous elements who are trying to convert black money into white have organised groups of innocent people and are sending them from one branch to another branch to exchange notes and get Rs. 4500,” said Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das.

“As a result what is happening is that the benefit of withdrawal of cash is getting restricted to smaller number of people…to prevent such kind of misuse, the branches of banks to take recourse to use of indelible ink marks for disbursement of cash,” he said.

Even, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mother Heeraben Modi exchanges currency at a bank in Gandhinagar on Tuesday.

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