New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed a plea challenging the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and State Bank of India (SBI) notifications, that permits exchange of the withdrawn Rs 2,000 notes without any identity proof.
A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad dismissed the petition after having reserved its judgement on May 23.
During the hearing, the bench observed that RBI's present decision to dispense with Rs 2,000 denomination banknotes is not a decision towards demonetisation.
The Public Interest Liitigation (PIL) filed by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay also said that the notifications -- published on May 19 and 20 -- were arbitrary and offended Article 14 of Constitution of India.
The PIL had also sought a direction to the RBI and the SBI to make sure that Rs 2,000 notes were deposited in respective bank accounts only, so that people having black money and disproportionate assets could be identified.
However, the high court on Monday noted that in order to ensure that there is a smooth transition of Rs 2,000 denomination banknotes, which continue to be a legal tender till September, 2023 i.e. for four months, banks have provided facilities for conversion of these banknotes to other denominations, therefore, the present case is not the case of demonetisation but withdrawal of Rs 2,000 denomination banknotes from circulation.
The court said: "For this purpose, the government has taken a decision not to insist upon the requirement of identity proof for exchange of Rs 2,000 denominations banknotes so that everybody can exchange the same with the other denomination banknotes.
"Therefore, it cannot be said that the decision of the government is perverse or arbitrary or it encourages black money, money laundering, profiteering or it abets corruption."
The Rs 2,000 denomination banknotes were introduced in November, 2016 to meet the currency requirement of the economy in an expeditious manner after the withdrawal of legal tender status of all Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes in circulation at that time.
Counsel for RBI, senior advocate Parag P. Tripathi contended that it is well settled that courts should not normally interfere with the policies of the government.
"It is now settled that the courts do not run contrary and sit over the decision taken by the government in the matters of policy unless the decision of the government is so perverse and arbitrary that it shocks the conscious of the courts," he said.
The bench dismissed the PIL observing that this decision of the government is purely a policy decision and courts should not sit as an appellate authority over the decision taken by the government.
"In the considered opinion of this Court, the present PIL is devoid of merits," the court said. —IANS