What About Seized Old Notes Returned After Demonetisation Deadline, SC Asks
The SC has now posed this question to the AG, asking why such a person should be made to lose his money since he cannot exchange it for the new currency anymore.
File Photo of the Supreme Court of India.
New Delhi: What can be somebody’s problem when the police seized his money in a criminal case and gives it back when he is freed of all charges? Perhaps nothing.
But ask someone who was booked before demonetisation and freed after the deadline to exchange the old notes was over. What does he do when the police hands over the same old currency that was seized?
The Supreme Court has now posed this question to the Attorney General, asking why such a person should be made to lose his money since he cannot exchange it for the new currency anymore.
A bench of Justices Rohinton F Nariman and Sanjay K Kaul sought the justification for denying concession to such people since they cannot be faulted for not being able to exchange old Rs 500, Rs 1000 notes.
“Suppose somebody is in jail… or even if he is not in jail, his money is case property and lying with the prosecution as evidence. When he is exonerated, he neither gets the money in new currency and he was, obviously, unable to exchange it during the pendency of the case. The RBI’s deadline is already over. How do you propose to deal with such cases?” the bench asked AG KK Venugopal.
The AG informed the bench that the deadline to exchange old notes was over on December 30, 2016 and that the government has opposed a batch of petitions in the apex court asking for a fresh window to let people deposit old currency.
At this, the bench pointed out that the example they raised stood on a different footing, as the money was with the police and there was absolutely no concession for the accused to have the demonetised notes exchanged.
Venugopal then sought some time to seek instructions and clarify the government’s stand officially through an affidavit. The Court gave him two weeks to do so.
The case in hand related to Abhishek Shukla, who was booked in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal with former Indian cricketer S Sreesanth. Since the case collapsed and all the accused were exonerated, Shukla got his Rs 5.5 lakh back – all in demonetised currency.
Rs 5.5 lakh was seized on September 25, 2013, from him and the money was released on February 1, 2017. Shukla’s petition stated that the RBI had turned down his request to exchange the old notes stating that the deadline was over.
According to the petition, since the money was lying with the Delhi Police, it was their responsibility to have got it exchanged after complying with the provisions of the Evidence Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure. Shukla stated that he cannot be made to lose his money for no fault of his after being exonerated.
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