Delhi High Court: BJP Leader Moves PIL Against RBI and SBI Notifications on Rs. 2000 Currency Notes

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By Legal Referencer

Introduction: Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India & Ors. (2023)
A recent public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Delhi High Court, raising concerns over the notifications issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the State Bank of India (SBI) that allow the exchange of Rs. 2000 currency notes without requiring any identity proof. The PIL, moved by BJP leader and Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeks to challenge the validity of these notifications, claiming that they are arbitrary and violate Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The notifications in question were published on May 19 and 20, sparking the PIL and a critical examination of the decision.

Demand for Depositing Notes Only in Respective Bank Accounts:
One of the key demands made in the PIL is for the RBI and SBI to ensure that the exchange of Rs. 2000 currency notes occurs exclusively in the respective bank accounts of individuals. This measure aims to prevent the diversion of funds into other accounts, enabling the identification of individuals involved in illicit activities such as holding black money and disproportionate assets.

Upadhyay further seeks intervention from the Union Government to take appropriate actions against those who possess black money and disproportionate assets, with the objective of combating corruption, benami transactions, and safeguarding the fundamental rights of citizens.

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Questioning the Need for Identity Proof:
The PIL raises a pertinent question regarding the recent announcement by the Central government that every family possesses an Aadhaar card and bank account. With this in mind, the petitioner questions why the RBI permits the exchange of Rs. 2000 banknotes without the requirement of identity proof.

Additionally, the petitioner emphasizes that around 80 crore Below Poverty Line (BPL) families receive free grains, indicating that these families rarely use Rs. 2000 banknotes. Therefore, the plea requests the RBI and SBI to implement measures ensuring that Rs. 2000 banknotes are deposited only in bank accounts.

Respondents and Legal Status of Rs. 2000 Notes:
The respondents in the PIL are the RBI, SBI, and the Union Ministries of Home Affairs and Finance. It is worth noting that the RBI recently announced the withdrawal of Rs. 2000 notes from circulation; however, the currency will continue to be recognized as legal tender. Individuals have the option to deposit their Rs. 2000 banknotes into their respective bank accounts or exchange them for banknotes of other denominations at any bank branch.

The RBI’s press note, issued on May 23, 2023, clarifies that the exchange of Rs. 2000 banknotes into other denominations can be done up to a limit of Rs. 20,000 at a time, considering the operational convenience and the smooth functioning of bank branches.

The PIL challenging the recent notifications permitting the exchange of Rs. 2000 currency notes without identity proof highlights concerns related to accountability and the potential misuse of funds. With the PIL filed in the Delhi High Court, the judiciary now faces the task of examining the validity of these notifications and assessing their compliance with Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

The outcome of this case could potentially shape future policies and regulations concerning the exchange and deposit of high-denomination banknotes, contributing to efforts aimed at combating corruption and securing the fundamental rights of citizens.


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