The Centre has been asked to respond within two weeks.
The Chief Justice of India, J S Khehar said, that the government has used its discretion on short notice to permit one category only, even though the law allows the govt to prolong the relief to other categories as well. After that the court would again hear the matter on April 11, it said.
The government promulgated the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Ordinance, 2016, on 28 December going by which possession of old Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes after 31 March beyond a threshold amount is a criminal offence that will attract a monetary fine of Rs 10,000 or five times the cash held, whichever is higher.
SC's observations are significant as people are still queuing up before the RBI counters to deposit the old invalidated notes they couldn't deposit/exchange in banks within the permitted period. Currently, only those who were overseas during this period and unable to avail of this window can deposit old notes.
The Supreme Court today asked the Centre why it chose not to create a separate category for those who couldn't deposit demonetised notes by December 30, 2016 unlike the NRIs and people who were overseas. The Supreme Court wanted to know from Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Union of India, that why they had withdrawal the date of March 31 deposit date and issued a notification with an ordinance as a result of which the petitioner had to suffer.
After preponing the deposition of currency to December 30, the government stated that citizens travelling overseas during the demonetisation period will be only allowed to deposit the banned currency in the RBI office with the subject to verification. Indians who were overseas between November 9 and December 30 were given a three-month grace period till March 31, 2017 to deposit the junked notes, while for non-resident Indians, the extension was for six months, till June 30.