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Can’t give more time to deposit old notes: Centre to SC

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On Monday, the Centre told the Supreme Court that it cannot give any more time to deposit old demonetised notes. It refused to grant any more time to those people who could not deposit old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes by the December 30, 2016, deadline.

The Union finance ministry told the apex court that such a thing will defeat the purpose of demonetisation, which was aimed at curbing black money.

“That it is most respectfully submitted that the very object of demonetisation and elimination of black money will be defeated if a window is opened for a further period as the persons in possession of the SBNs would have had sufficient time and opportunity to carefully plan the reasons and excuses for not depositing the SBNs within the permitted period,” read a government affidavit.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government recalled 500- and 1,000-rupee notes in November last year. It wiped out 86% of the money in circulation in a cash-driven economy. Modi said the move was a war against black money and corruption.

But the sudden decision led to a huge chaos, with people queuing up outside banks to deposit their old notes. The Opposition attacked the government for its mismanagement and lack or proper coordination.

“Any number of benami transactions and user proxies for the purpose of producing and depositing SBNs would then arise which the departments would have great difficulty in deciding any genuine case from the numerous bogus ones,” a government affidavit stated.

The document was filed after the apex court asked the government to open another window for those who had valid reasons for not depositing the old notes before the deadline.

The SC is hearing petitions filed by those who were denied permission by the Reserve Bank of India to deposit their money after the expiry of the deadline.

But the petitioners said that PM Modi had in his speech on November 8, 2016, assured that old currency would be accepted at select RBI outlets till March 31, 2017.

In the last hearing, the Chief Justice of India had asked the government to consider giving some more time to people who were unable to deposit money in banks due to genuine reasons. It had warned the government against issuing orders if it did not do so.

“What if someone is terminally ill and could not deposit the money. If someone has a genuine reason, you cannot deny him the opportunity to deposit the money. You cannot be allowed to deprive a person of his money,” a bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar had said.


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