The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned to November 24 the hearing on petitions challenging the 2016 demonetisation exercise after the Centre sought more time to file a comprehensive affidavit, PTI reported.
A Constitution bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer, BR Gavai, AS Bopanna, V Ramasubramanian and BV Nagarathna had directed the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India to file affidavits on October 12.
The bench is considering 58 petitions challenging the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government’s move to demonetise high-value currency notes in 2016.
On November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes would cease to be legal tender in India from midnight. Modi had said that the decision had been taken to “fight corruption, black money and terrorism”.
The Rs 2,000 notes and Rs 500 notes with a new design were introduced after demonetisation.
The petitioners have claimed that exercise violated several constitutional rights of citizens, such as the right to property (Article 300A), right to equality (Article 14), right to carry on any trade, business or occupation (Article 19) and right to life and right to livelihood (Article 21).
During Wednesday’s hearing, Attorney General R Venkataramani apologised for the delay and sought a week to file the comprehensive affidavit.
“We could not get the affidavit ready,” Venkataramani said, according to Live Law. “We require a very short indulgence of about a week. The affidavit will be useful for all of us to proceed in some structured way. Otherwise, the course of action may be unnavigated…I am deeply sorry.”
The bench, however, expressed dissatisfaction regarding the adjournment requisition.
“Normally, a Constitution bench never adjourns like this,” Justice Nagarathna said. “We never rise like this once we have started. It is very embarrassing for this court.”
Justice Nazeer pointed out that the Centre had four weeks to file its stand in the case. “The time that you have been granted cannot be said to be short or insufficient time,” he said, according to Live Law.
Advocate Shyam Divan, who was representing a petitioner in the case, said that it is highly unusual to ask for an adjournment from a Constitution bench.
Advocate P Chidambaram also said it was an embarrassing situation for the court. “I leave it to this court’s wisdom,” he said.