The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India, asking why people cannot deposit the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes till March end. The apex court was hearing four petitions alleging that the RBI had refused to accept demonetised notes despite a government directive. The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar, has sought replies before March 10, reported PTI.

The petitioners’ lawyer argued that the RBI’s refusal to accept old notes was a violation of the government’s November 8 notification. The counsel pointed out that in his address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that those unable to deposit the scrapped currency by December 30, 2016, can do so at specified RBI offices till March 31, 2017. The old notes can be deposited after submitting a declaration form, the prime minister had then said.

However, an RBI notification on December 31 read that only those who were abroad between November 9 and December 30 can deposit the demonetised notes till March 31, while the deadline for NRIs is June 30. Following this, there were protests at different RBI branches across the country, with agitators alleging that they were unaware of this notification.

On November 8, the government had demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, which made up 86% of the currency in circulation in India then, saying the move would help smoke out those hoarding black money. It has since said that the decision would also push India into becoming a cashless economy. The move has been widely criticised by the Opposition and economists.