A five-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice S A Nazeer, on Wednesday, directed the Union government and the Reserve Bank of India to file a comprehensive affidavit on the petitions challenging the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency in 2018.
The apex Court said it is a duty to answer when an issue arises before a constitutional bench.
The five-judge Bench, comprising Justices S. Abdul Nazeer, B.R. Gavai, A.S. Bopanna, V. Ramasubramanian, and B.V. Nagarathna, had earlier wondered if anything survived in the issue after all these years and whether the exercise had become merely “academic”.
Attorney General R Venkataramani submitted that unless the Act on demonetisation is challenged in a proper perspective, the issue will essentially remain academic.
“In order to answer that issue, we will have to hear and give an answer whether it’s academic, not academic or beyond the scope of judicial review. The point in the case is the government policy and its wisdom which is one aspect of the matter.
“We always know where the Lakshman Rekha is, but the manner in which it was done has to be examined. We have to hear the counsel to decide that,” the bench said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Union government, said the court’s time should not be “wasted” on academic issues.
Objecting to Mehta’s submission, senior lawyer Shyam Divan, representing petitioner Vivek Narayan Sharma, said he was surprised at the words “waste of constitutional bench’s time” as the earlier bench had said these cases must be placed before a constitution bench.
Senior advocate P Chidambaram, appearing for one of the parties, said the issue has not become academic and has to be decided by the top court. He said this kind of demonetisation requires a separate act of Parliament.
The top court has now posted the matter for hearing on November 9, 2022.
On 16 December 2016, a bench headed by then Chief Justice TS Thakur referred the question of the validity of the decision and other related matters to a larger bench of five judges for an authoritative pronouncement.