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On November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Centre’s decision to do away with Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes, ostensibly to curb the proliferation of black money.
Exactly one year later, the jury is still out on whether the demonetisation move actually proved successful in any way, shape or form.
Pursuant to Modi’s announcement, citizens across the country found themselves inconvenienced by the move in various ways, whether it was having to wait in long queues to withdraw money from ATMs, facing a lack of access to technology to make digital payments, or being unable to withdraw cash from banks.
This, unsurprisingly, led to a slew of cases being filed in courts across the country. We had earlier reported on petitions being filed in as many as six high courts, but that number steadily rose as time passed.
The matters would eventually be transferred to the Supreme Court, to be tagged with the main matter titled Vivek Narayan Sharma v. Union of India. As many forty-nine cases have been tagged with this matter.
In December 2016, a Bench of then Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud referred the challenge to a five-judge Bench. However, the same has not been constituted till date, and the matters are currently before apex court Registrar Sanjay Parihar.
The matters last came up before the Registrar on September 15, when it was found that the Centre had not yet filed a counter-affidavit. It has now been listed before him for Friday, November 10.
Whenever the Constitution Bench does get constituted, it will determine the challenges on the basis of the following questions framed in the referral order:
A number of questions surrounding the future of these challenges arise: When will the Constitution Bench take up the matter? Will the Bench take action against the government for the inconvenience caused by the demonetisation scheme, at little or no benefit to the people? Will the matters be considered infructuous now that the dust has settled?
The simple answer is that we will have to wait and watch. At least now, one year and fifty petitions later, the ATM lines are shorter.
Read about the demonetisation petitions filed by or on behalf of co-operative banks here.