What happens to old notes tied up in court cases, asks advocate

Published - January 09, 2017 11:47 pm IST - MYSURU:

A city-based advocate has expressed apprehensions about the fate of the high-value currency notes confiscated by the police during raids. The notes will be in police custody as evidence, to be recorded and produced in court, until the disposal of the case, which may take years.

The question has assumed significance following the lapse of the Reserve Bank’s deadline for depositing old ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes in banks (December 30). Likewise, the last date to deposit the notes at RBI counters is March 31. But the currency notes seized by the police cannot be exchanged or released as they constitute evidence.

P.P. Baburaj of the People’s Legal Forum raised the issue citing his client’s case in which ₹2 lakh was seized while being transported from Kerala to Mysuru for the purchase of granite in 2014. As the Parliamentary elections had just been announced, the client’s vehicle was subjected to check and the cash was seized by the police as he was not carrying the withdrawal challan or any other document proving that it was not unaccounted for money.

Mr. Baburaj told The Hindu that not all the seized cash is illegal but it all ends up embroiled in cases if it is a seizure by the police or confiscation by the Lokayukta.

Incidentally, in the absence of clear guidelines, the advocate’s request for documenting, photographing and filming the cash of his clients and releasing it for exchange in banks ahead of the deadline was turned down by a local court in Nanjangud.

He said there is no clarity on the issue and there could be lakhs of such cases across India, with the amount seized running into crores of rupees.

“Since there are no proper guidelines from either the RBI or the Supreme Court, several litigants may not be able to get back their hard-earned money even after the disposal of the case,” said Mr. Baburaj who has written to the government to issue guidelines for such a scenario.

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