The Centre on Tuesday said it will decide within two days whether those who failed to exchange their demonetised notes before December 30 can exchange them before March 31, NDTV reported. The announcement came after the Supreme Court rebuked the government over a discrepancy in the deadlines announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Reserve Bank of India.
The apex court has asked the Centre to explain why the RBI has not adhered to Modi’s announcement that the public would have until March-end to exchange the scrapped currency – the central bank had brought the deadline forward to December 31, 2016. The bench also questioned the Centre’s decision to make an exemption for those who were abroad during the demonetisation drive and for non-resident Indians.
“If the prime minister has made a statement that deposits can be made until March-end, but the law says one cannot do so, the law will prevail,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for April 11. The case is being heard on the basis of several petitions.
On March 6, the Supreme Court had issued notices to the Centre and RBI on the matter. The petitioners’ counsels had pointed out that Modi had said those unable to deposit the scrapped currency by December 30, 2016, can do so at specified RBI offices till March 31, 2017. 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 NRIs had till June 30. Following this, there were protests at different RBI branches across the country.
The Centre 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 crack down on black money and help India transition into a cashless economy. The move has been widely criticised by the Opposition and economists.