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Demonetisation 2016: Is it legal?
Whether the Demonetisation 2016 (announced by PM Modi) is legal or not, the government's decision to withdraw high-denomination currency has proved to be a sort of economic calamity that had resulted in untold stories of pain all across India. Though it is said to bring in long term economic gains, what it has so far achieved is mere short term pains for majority of its citizens.

With 86 per cent of the country's currency immobilised and impounded, Indian economy is virtually out of order. It is in fact struggling to function. No one knows how many months it would take to print currency notes to replace the withdrawn banknotes. 

In this uncertain scenario, the people in India especially the common man will have no option than to stand in queues virtually begging for his own money. However, the unwise decision by Modi Government to print Rs.2000 notes has made life even simpler and easier for all currency-hoarders and corruptive people in India.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has now agreed that the issue of demonetisation is of public importance and has far-reaching consequence, requiring a Constitution Bench to hear the petitions challenging the policy. Accordingly, the Apex Court has (on 16th December, 2016) ordered the formation of a five-judge Constitution Bench to look into the issue. The Constitution Bench will test the constitutionality of the November 8, 2016 demonetisation notification by Modi Government and the legality of the implementation of the policy.

In this process, the apex court will have to decide many questions (arising out of demonetisation notification by Modi Government) in public interest. The court has to decide whether the RBI notification of November 8, 2016 is ultra vires Section 26(2) and other relevant provisions of the RBI Act, 1934. It has to examine whether the notification is violative of Article 300A (right to property) of the Constitution. It will also decide whether the notification is ultra vires Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution.

More importantly, the apex court will decide whether limited withdrawal of one's own money caused by demonetisation is a violation of Articles 14, 19, 20 and 21 of the Constitution. It will also decide whether the implementation of the notification is in substantive and procedural violation of the law of the land.

Among others, the court will also test whether Section 26(2) of the RBI Act is itself a piece of excessive delegation of legislative powers. It will also delve into what is the scope of judicial review into a fiscal and economic policy of the government. Further, the court is going to decide the power of political parties to file writ petitions in the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution. Finally, it has also in its agenda a question to check whether DCCBs in India have been subjected to discrimination when they were stopped from accepting deposits and allowing withdrawals.

No doubt, now the question of deciding the legality or otherwise of November 8, 2016 demonetisation notification by Modi Government is before the apex court of India. In this scenario, what we all (as responsible citizens of India) do expect now is a speedy disposal of the case. The common man simply expects nothing more than the justice rendered just in time because justice delayed is always justice denied.

(Mr V S Vadivel, FCA ACS, is an eminent Chartered Accountant, notable author, socio-economic thinker and unique academician from India)

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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