NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday rejected a plea against exchange of Rs 2000 currency notes without identification slip, saying this is a purely policy decision related to withdrawal of banknotes and it cannot be said to be perverse or arbitrary or it encourages black money, money laundering, profiteering or it abets corruption.
A bench of Chief Justice Subash Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said that it order to facilitate the exchange of Rs 2000 denomination banknotes with other denomination banknotes, the government has given a window of four months to the citizens and in order to avoid inconvenience to citizens, the government is not insisting of providing any kind of identification.
The court also pointed out the decision of the government is only to withdraw Rs 2000 denomination banknotes from circulation for the reason that the purpose of issuing these denominations has achieved its purpose which was to meet the currency requirement of the economy in an expeditious manner in November, 2016 when all Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination banknotes were declared to be not legal tender and in order to meet the situation at that point of time, the Government took a decision to bring banknotes of Rs 2000 denomination to ensure adequate supply of money to meet the day-to-day requirements of the people.
Six years after the said decision, the government has now decided to withdraw Rs 2000 denomination banknotes from circulation which is not being used commonly. Banknotes of Rs 2000 would continue to be a legal tender and this policy is only for exchange of banknotes having denomination of Rs 2000 with other banknotes, it noted.
"The government has taken a decision not to insist upon requirement of identity proof for exchange of Rs 2000 denominations banknotes so that everybody can exchange the same with the other denomination banknotes. Therefore, it cannot be said that the decision of the government is perverse or arbitrary or it encourages black money, money laundering, profiteering or it abets corruption," the court said.
The bench also said this decision of the government is purely a policy decision and courts should not sit as an Appellate Authority over the decision taken by the government.
The court dismissed a PIL filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay as devoid of merits.
Upadhyay filed the writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution seeking a declaration that the RBI's Notification of May 19, 2023 and SBI's May 20, 2023, which permitted exchange of Rs 2000 denomination banknotes without obtaining any requisition slip and identity proof, is arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
He said out of total denomination of Rs 2000 banknotes, at present Rs 3.62 lakh crores banknotes are in circulation and are not being commonly used for transactions.
He, therefore, submitted that these notes are primarily black money.
"These notes have been hoarded by the separatists, terrorists, maoists, drug smugglers, mining mafias and corrupt people," he claimed.
He also contended that at present, the total population of India is around 142 crores and out of which 130 crores people have Aadhar Card which means that every family has 3-4 Aadhar Cards.
He submitted that out of the total 225 crore of bank accounts, 48 crores bank accounts are Jan Dhan accounts of the people who are below the poverty line. He said that by not insisting any form of identification at the time of exchange of Rs 2000 denomination banknotes to other denomination banknotes, the government is actually encouraging persons who are indulged in Benami transactions, money laundering and drug trafficking etc, and therefore, this decision of the Government has to be struck down by the Court.
He also said the policy of the Government is to unearth black money and prevent corruption, therefore, it can't be a party to a decision, which promoted corruption.