In the ongoing saga of demonetisation, the judiciary has stepped in, with the Supreme Court declaring that a five-judge bench will decide if the controversial move by the government is legally valid. With parliament in limbo amidst the chaos between the treasury benches and the opposition and the common man engulfed in confusion, this development will surely put the centre on the mat.
Days after demonetisation was announced on 8 November, the Supreme Court had declared that the common man should not be made to bear the brunt of the executive decision, as this Indian Express report clearly points out. The Government was asked by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur to justify under the existing laws of the land itsdecision to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes and render them illegal tender. This new development comes as the court is hearing a number of petitions challenging the ban on these high-denomination notes which has left millions facing a cash crunch and wasting days in queues or scrambling to banks and ATMs to get cash. Yesterday, the Supreme Court had asked the banks to ensure that customers could withdraw the RBI-mandated maximumamount of Rs. 24,o0o through cheques from their bank accounts after there were complaints that lesser sums were being doled out. This upper limit is also to be reviewed by the highest court of the land.
The court will also decide whether it can interfere in policy in fiscal matters. Fiscal matters have been the exclusive domain of the RBI and the Ministry of Finance over the years. The PM Narendra Modi has been trying to placate the common man in light of their visible misery and the opposition, including Congres VP Rahul Gandhi going for him with allegations of ‘personal corruption.’ There is no word from the government on this new development. More details will follow as soon as updates pour in.