"We will ask for Registry's report, mention on Friday": Supreme Court on plea challenging exchange of Rs 2000 Banknotes without Requisition Slip, Identity Proof

Read Time: 06 minutes


The petition claims that the RBI Notification dated May 19, 2023 and the SBI Notification dated May 20, 2023, which permits exchange of Rs. 2000 banknotes without even obtaining any requisition slip and identity proof, is manifestly arbitrary and irrational and therefore violates Articles 14.

The Supreme Court today said that it would ask for the Registry's report on the plea challenging Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) notification that permits exchange of Rs. 2000 banknotes without any requisition slip or identity proof.

A vacation bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Rajesh Bindal question petitioner Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay on his repeated mentioning of the plea and said, "Was this mentioned earlier? After a direction was given that it should be mentioned after the court reopens, how can you mention again before a different bench...".

Notably, on June 1, Upadhyay had mentioned the same plea before a bench of Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and KV Vishwanathan, which had asked him to come after the court reopens and refused to accept the urgent mentioning.

Upadhyay today told court that money was being hoarded by gangsters and there were media reports saying 80,000 crores was exchanged between maoists and terrorists.

Hearing this Justice Bose said, "We'll seek a report from registry on this. We grant you liberty to mention this on Friday."

Last week, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad of the Delhi High Court had "dismissed" a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against permission to exchange Rs. 2,000 denomination banknotes without obtaining any requisition slip and identity proof.

Notably, the court on May 23, had "reserved order" in the PIL. While reserving the order, the bench had said, “We will pass appropriate orders”.

The PIL filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay challenged the two notifications issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on May 19 and the State Bank of India (SBI) on May 20, as arbitrary, irrational, and in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

Upadhyay, through the plea, sought directions to the RBI and SBI to ensure that Rs. 2000 banknotes are deposited in respective bank accounts only so that no one could deposit the money in others' bank accounts and people having black money and disproportionate assets could be identified easily.

The impugned notification of the RBI reads as:

In pursuance of the “Clean Note Policy” of the Reserve Bank of India, it has been decided to withdraw the ₹2000 denomination banknotes from circulation. The banknotes in ₹2000 denomination will continue to be legal tender. It may be noted that RBI had undertaken a similar withdrawal of notes from circulation in 2013-2014.

Accordingly, members of the public may deposit ₹2000 banknotes into their bank accounts and/or exchange them into banknotes of other denominations at any bank branch. Deposit into bank accounts can be made in the usual manner, that is, without restrictions and subject to extant instructions and other applicable statutory provisions.

In order to ensure operational convenience and to avoid disruption of regular activities of bank branches, exchange of ₹2000 banknotes into banknotes of other denominations can be made upto a limit of ₹20,000/- at a time at any bank starting from May 23, 2023.

Case Title: Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India & Ors.