Demonetization decision gets SC’s seal of approval

New Delhi: The Supreme Court affirmed the Central government’s 2016 decision to demonetize currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 denominations.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice S A Nazeer and comprising Justices B R Gavai, A S Bopanna, V Ramasubramanian, and B V Nagarathna pronounced the judgment on a clutch of petitions challenging the Centre’s 2016 decision to demonetize currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 denominations.

Pronouncing the majority judgment, Justice Gavai said that the decision-making process cannot be faulted merely because the proposal emanated from the Central government.

Justice Gavai added that there was consultation between the Centre and the RBI for a period of six months.

“We hold that there was a reasonable nexus to bring such a measure, and we hold that demonetization was not hit by the doctrine of proportionality,” said the majority judgment.

Justice Nagarathna said examining Section 26(2) would not mean to sit over the merits of demonetization and thus it is well within the lakshman rekha as drawn by this court.

The bench said there has to be great restraint in matters of economic policy and the court cannot supplant the wisdom of the executive with its wisdom. Justice Nagarathna differed from the majority view, and delivered a dissenting judgment.

During the hearing, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that the November 2016 decision to withdraw legal tender of Rs 500 and 1,000 currency notes was one of the critical steps in the series of transformational economic policy steps and this decision was taken after extensive consultation with the RBI and advance preparations.

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