The Delhi High Court today dismissed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) notification dated May 19, 2023, and the State Bank of India (SBI) notification dated May 20, 2023, which permitted the exchange of Rs. 2000 currency notes without obtaining any requisition slip and identity proof.

The Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad pronounced the judgment and dismissed the PIL. However, a detailed report of the judgment is awaited in the matter.

The Delhi High Court reserved its order on May 23, 2023. In the Petition moved under Article 226 of the Constitution by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay it was highlighted that as per the RBI notification, the circulation of Rs. 2000 banknotes have declined from Rs. 6.73 lakh crore to 3.62 lakh crore and that these remaining 3.11 lakh crore have either reached the individual's locker or has been hoarded by the separatists, terrorists, Maoists, drug smugglers, mining mafias & corrupt people.

The petitioner-in-person Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay argued that his prayers do not intend to challenge the entire notification but only the part where Rs. 2000 notes are being exchanged without any slip or identity proof. He had submitted that "previously what used to happen is anyone hoarding black money could make it white by paying 50% of it as a penalty and keeping the rest 50% with themselves. Now the Banks are saying just bring the money and we don't require any of your document."

Senior Advocate Parag P Tripathi appearing for the Respondent RBI opposed the PIL and argued that "There are two judgements which directly cover the matter of economic policy, where your lordships have consistently held that the Court should not get into it." The Counsel relied on the judgement of R.K. Garg And Ors. vs Union Of India (Uoi) And Ors (1981) 4 SCC 675) and Balco Employees Union (Regd.) vs Union Of India & Ors decided on 10 December 2001 and submitted that this has been the consistent Law.

It was submitted by the RBI, "First of all this is not demonetization and that notes of Rs. 2000 were introduced to meet the currency requirement. It was also observed that this denomination is not commonly used in transactions and the other notes denominations are adequate". RBI submitted that in view of the clean note policy of the RBI, the Rs.2000 note was decided to be withdrawn.

Upadhyay in his plea alleged that including 48 crore Jana Dhan Bank accounts of BPL families there are a total of 225 Crore Bank Accounts for a population of 142 Crore people in India and that 130 Crore Indians have AADHAR Cards which depicts that every family has a bank account and therefore the RBI should not permit the exchange of Rs. 2000 notes without obtaining identity proof. The plea also states that 80 Crore Indians receive free grains and would hardly ever use Rs. 2,000/- banknotes.

It was also stated in the plea that there are no reasons why the RBI is permitting the currency exchange instead of directing to deposit of Rs. 2000 notes in the Bank Account and that the High Court should ensure that RBI should only allow the deposition of Rs. 2000 banknotes in bank accounts only.

Cause Title: Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union Of India & Others [Diary No. 931442 of 2023]