The Supreme Court on Friday said it would hear all petitions, including the Centre’s plea seeking a transfer of 24 PILs against its November 8 demonetisation move pending in various high courts, on December 2.
A bench led by Chief Justice TS Thakur said it will “certainly” hear all the petitions both on the ground realities and the constitutionality of the November 8 RBI notification demonetising R1000 and R500 currency notes.
It also asked attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, to file additional affidavit explaining the “schemes and steps” taken to ease the situation that has arisen due to demonetisation.
“If you want us to look into it… We will certainly do… But we will hear all. We cannot hear this issue piecemeal,” Chief Justice Thakur said, refusing plea of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for one of the petitioners, to advance the hearing to Tuesday next.
“Demonetisation is unconstitutional and has brought hardship to the common men, farmers and traders,” Sibal said, adding that “there is a lot of inconvenience. They don’t have the capacity to print the new currency. What are they going to do?.”
The senior lawyer also said that the matter should be referred to a five-judge bench as earlier on two occasions similar issues were heard by the two judge bench.
While Sibal argued that “people were starving on the roads… the markets are closed,” the AG opposed it, saying “nobody is starving on the roads.”
Rohatgi told the court that let all the petitioners, who have approached various high courts on the issue, come to the apex court which would take a final call on December 2 as to whether the Supreme Court or the Delhi High Court would hear them all.
The Union government had moved the apex court seeking transfer of all the petitions pending in various high courts to either the Supreme Court or one of the high courts.
On Thursday, it had filed an affidavit in the apex court defending demonetisation as a “bold move” that would eradicate black money and slush funds, which form a “parallel economy” hitting the poor and the middle class. In its affidavit, Centre had also said the decision, on which total secrecy was maintained, would now help in proper implementation of the ambitious ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’ under which around 22 crore bank accounts for poor people have been opened.
The government also gave various reasons for maintaining secrecy about the move which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi just after 8 pm on November 8 and came into force from the midnight.
Further, it has said that demonetisation is seen as a check on the real estate sector where prices get pushed up artificially, reducing the availability of affordable housing for the poor and the middle class.