Prime Minister Narendra Modi had surprised the nation on November 8 when he declared the old Rs 500 and 1000 notes invalid.
However, the Ordinance, issued on December 30 last, had specified that only those who were overseas or armed forces personnel posted in remote areas or others who could give valid reasons for not being able to deposit the cancelled notes at banks, could deposit the demonetised currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes till March 31. It had asked the government to consider creating a window for people with such legitimate reasons to deposit scrapped notes.
In its affidavit to the top court, the centre said opening another window to deposit or exchange the old notes would give black money hoarders “sufficient time and opportunity” to come up with reasons for not having done so before the December 30 deadline. It added that opening another window for exchanging Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes will result in “any number of benami transactions and make it hard to identify genuine cases from the bogus ones”.
The PM’s announcement in November meant that within a few hours, 86 per cent of the cash in circulation was pulled. If people were unable to deposit them by that day, they could do so until March 31, 2017, at RBI branches after complying with certain formalities.
“What if someone is terminally ill and could not deposit the money. You can’t take his money away, it is his money”.
According to reports, the Chief Justice of India JS Khehar was concerned about the honest citizens and said, “If these genuine people are not given a chance, then it is a serious issue”. Even some educational institutions were found to have accepted fees in old currency notes after midnight of November 8.
The affidavit cited specific instances of how money was allegedly laundered and routed through accounts of shell companies and was layered through “intermediary” accounts before being received in accounts of bullion traders.
Doing so would have defeated the very objective of demonetisation, the government said. Similarly, the Income Tax department conducted more than 15,000 surveys which resulted in detection of undisclosed income of more than ₹33,000 crore.