A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court for a direction to set up special anti-corruption courts in every district to decide cases related to various economic offences like money laundering, benami properties, disproportionate assets and tax evasion within one year.
Lawyer-petitioner and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay argued long-pending cases of economic offence and widespread corruption slow down the development process in the country.
The Narendra Modi government had demonetised around 85 per cent of the currency in 2016 and pitched it as a definitive war on black money.Previously, the Morarji Desai government had also carried out demonetisation but at a lower scale.
The plea claimed that “Total budget of the Centre, states and local bodies is around Rs 70 lakh crore but due to massive corruption in every department, around 10 per cent of this budget (Rs 7 lakh crore) becomes black money.”
The plea further proposed that “The Centre can save this huge public money by recalling currency above Rs 100, restricting cash transaction above Rs 5,000, linking assets above Rs 50,000 to Aadhaar, confiscating 100 per cent black money, benami property, disproportionate assets, and awarding life imprisonment to looters,”
While the plea contended that the injury caused to people is extremely large because corruption is an insidious plague, having numerous corrosive effects on so, the plea states that "corruption is key element in economic underperformance and main obstacle in poverty alleviation. Right to life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 cannot be secured and the golden goals of Preamble cannot be achieved without curbing corruption,"
"Due to long pendency and ineffective anti-corruption laws, even after 73 years of independence and 70 years after becoming a socialist secular democratic republic, none of the welfare schemes and government departments are corruption-free, none of our districts are free from cases related to black money due to which, India ranked 1 in illegal gun ownership and illegal immigration, 2 in Intentional Homicides and Traffic Related Deaths, 3 in CO2 Emission and 4 in Slavery index.” the petition reads.
The petition also contended that India's anti-corruption laws are very weak and ineffective and fail to control corruption, and even the Benami Transactions Act, passed in 1988, is gathering dust without action.
"Every family has debit card and Aadhaar card, therefore, estricting cash transaction above Rs 5,000 and linking property with Aadhaar is feasible," it suggested.
Additionally, the plea also seeks directions to all High Courts to take appropriate steps to decide corruption related cases vis-à-vis black money, benami property, disproportionate assets, bribery, money laundering, tax evasion, profiteering, hoarding adulteration human-drug trafficking, black marketing dishonest misappropriation of property, cheating, fraud, forgery, corporate fraud, forensic fraud, foreign exchange and other economic offences within one year.
The Plea argues that it undermines democracy and rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes quality of life and allows organized crime like separatism, terrorism, naxalism, radicalism, gambling, smuggling, kidnapping, money laundering and extortion, and other threats to human security to flourish. It hurts the EWS-BPL families disproportionately by diverting the funds intended for development, undermines government's ability to provide basic services, seeds inequality & injustice and discourages foreign aids and investment.
In a statement, Upadhyay justified his demand for demonetisation 2.0, saying, “The 2016 demonetisation was not a demonetisation in real sense. In fact, it was a currency exchange programme. The old currencies of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 were replaced with new currencies of Rs 500 and 2,000, and this is the reason corruption is still there.
He further added in a statement that “If the government withdraws the currencies above Rs 100 permanently, it will not only curtail around 25 per cent corruption, black money and hawala transactions but also separatism, Naxalism and radicalism”. As of today, 80 per cent Indians spend less than Rs 100 per day, and the remaining 20 per cent, who spend more than that have debit cards, credit cards, online banking and Bhim mobile apps, etc, he said.
The PIL (Public Interest Litigation) contends that India has never been ranked among the top 50 in the Corruption Perception Index and that the Centre and state governments have also not taken appropriate steps in this regard.
The petition has made the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Law and Justice, and various states and Union territories parties in the case.