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SC reserves judgment on pleas challenging demonetisation; seeks records from Centre, RBI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved judgment on a batch of 58 petitions challenging the Centre’s decision six years ago to demonetise the currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs1,000 denominations, reports Live Law.

A Constitution Bench comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer, BR Gavai, AS Bopanna, V Ramasubramanian and BV Nagarathna heard arguments. The bench allowed parties to give written submissions by December 10.

The Court also asked the Union Government and the Reserve Bank of India to produce the relevant records. Attorney General (AG) of India R Venkataramani said that the documents will be produced in a sealed cover.

During the hearing, the bench had observed that it will not sit with folded hands just because it was an economic policy decision and stated that it can examine how the decision was taken.

The bench had initially expressed that the issue was “academic” since six years have gone by since the decision and wondered if it can undo the actions. However, on October 12, the bench agreed to hear the matter on merits, after the persuasive arguments made by Senior Advocate P Chidambaram.

Arguing for the petitioners, Chidambaram said that though the effects of the decision cannot be undone, the Court should lay down the law for the future, so that “similar misadventures” are not repeated. Senior Advocates Shyam Divan and Prashant Bhushan presented arguments for some petitioners.

Among the batch were certain petitions filed by persons seeking an extension of the deadline for exchanging the notes.

In his reply, AG submitted that the decision was taken to curb the evils of fake currency, black money and terror funding.

He argued that the scope of judicial review in economic policy decisions is extremely narrow. Even if it is assumed the demonetisation has not succeeded in producing the intended results, that cannot be a reason to invalidate the decision judicially, as it has been taken in good faith after following due process.