Being ‘inked’ will compound cash woes
There was relief for the government on Tuesday as Supreme Court refused to stay the government’s notification demonetising Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes but asked it to spell out the steps taken to minimise public inconvenience.
“We will not be granting any stay,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and D Y Chandrachud said.
The remarks were made after some advocates insisted on a stay.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for one of the petitioners, however, said he was not asking for a stay on the notification but seeking answers from the government about the steps taken to remove public inconvenience.
The bench asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to file an affidavit about the measures already undertaken by the government and the RBI to minimise public inconvenience and also the steps likely to be undertaken in future.
Without issuing any notice to the Centre or the RBI, the bench posted the matter for further hearing on
However, there was no end to the unending woes of ordinary citizens who were queuing up in droves outside ATMs and banks since early morning Tuesday to withdraw valid currency notes from vending machines and exchange demonetised bills.
While banks remained closed on Monday on account of Guru Nanak Jayanti in many parts of the country, cash-starved customers again were disappointed on Tuesday with most of the ATMs running out of the cash.
Even at some ATMs which had cash were facing server issues, making people wait in the queue frustrated.
Many households are running out of even piggybank money saved by their children for meeting essential daily provisions. Banks’ infrastructure is unable to handle the huge rush resulting in long serpentine queue where average waiting time is 4 hours, especially for exchange.
ATMs will still take two more weeks before they start dispensing new high-value Rs 500 and 2000 notes. Currently, they are dispensing Rs 100 notes which make them go dry in few hours.
With public anger rising across the country over limited cash availability, the government eased key restrictions, including raising daily withdrawal limit from bank counters and ATMs as well as hiking the amount of old and now defunct currency notes that can be exchanged.
The limit of old and now defunct Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that can be exchanged for freshly minted Rs 2,000 and new Rs 500 notes was increased from Rs 4,000 to Rs 4,500 per day.
The weekly limit of Rs 20,000 for withdrawal from bank counters has been increased to Rs 24,000. The maximum limit of Rs 10,000 per day on such withdrawals has been removed.
Grappling with unending queues and frayed tempers in banks and to check operation of syndicates, government on Tuesday decided to introduce a system of marking customers exchanging defunct currency notes with indelible ink while monitoring suspicious deposits in Jan Dhan accounts.
After a review meeting taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday night to discuss the situation, the government has set-up a high-powered group under the Cabinet Secretary to monitor supply of essential goods in the wake of disruption of trade due to shortage of currency notes.
Besides, a task force has been constituted to monitor circulation of fake currency notes in vulnerable areas and to keep a watch on black money being deposited in the system.
“It has come to notice of the government that in many places the same people are coming back again and again and we have also received reports that certain unscrupulous elements who are trying to convert black money into white have organised groups of innocent people and are sending them from one branch to another branch to exchange notes and get Rs 4500,” Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das told reporters.
A small mark of indelible ink, used mostly during elections to prevent multiple voting, will be put on the right hand finger of those exchanging banned 500 and 1,000 rupee notes for new ones from Wednesday to prevent crowding at banks by repeat exchangers.
1. SC refuses to stay demonetisation, asks govt what steps being taken
2. Indelible ink to check frequent cash exchange
3. PM Modi holds all party meeting
4. SBI may soon dispense Rs 50, Rs 20 notes at ATMs
5. Huge rush at banks and ATMs