With just two days left for the deposit or exchange of the currency notes, scrapped by the government, following the implementation of the demonetisation policy, the cabinet had today cleared an ordinance to state the possession of scrapped currency notes of large amounts a penal offence which will be punishable with monetary fines. The cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the promulgation of the ordinance, named The Specified Bank Notes Cessation of Liabilities Ordinance, which declares the possession of old currency notes of the denomination Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 a punishable offence.
In 1978, a similar Ordinance was issued to end the government’s liability after Rs 1,000, Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 notes were demonetised by the Morarji Desai-led government. Sources said the legal amendments are needed every time the government decides to scrap any legal tender to put an end to its promissory note. Of the Rs 15.4 lakh crore worth of currency that was scrapped, about Rs 14 lakh crore has been deposited in banks or exchanged.
And as the PM Modi implemented demonetisation policy, which was initiated in the wake of the need to curb the flow of black money in the country, had reached its final steps, here are the key take-aways from the government approved Ordinance passed today:
- The Specified Bank Notes Cessation of Liabilities Ordinance makes holding of old 1,000 and 500 rupee notes after March 31 beyond a threshold amount a criminal offence that will attract a monetary fine of Rs 10,000 or five times the cash held, whichever is higher.
- Furnishing wrong information while depositing the old currency between January 1 and March 31 will attract a fine of Rs 5,000 or five times the amount.
- Sources said the proposal put to the Cabinet was for a four-year jail term for anyone possessing a number of demonetised currency after March 31, 2017, but it was not immediately clear if it was approved.
- The Ordinance will have to sent to the President and after his assent will come into force. The Ordinance, which will have to be converted into a proper legislation by passing of a law by Parliament within six months, makes possession, transfer or receiving an amount of over Rs 10,000 in the now-demonetised 500 and 1,000-rupee notes a punishable offence. A maximum of 10 banned notes may be allowed to be held by any person.
- Sources said while the deadline for the deposit of old currency in bank or post office accounts expires on Friday, time till March 31 is available for doing so with RBI with stiff conditions by people who were abroad, armed forces personnel posted in remote areas or others who can give valid reasons for not being able to deposit the cancelled notes at banks.
(With inputs from agencies)