It is “misleading and wrong” to say the Supreme Court has upheld demonetisation, the Congress said on Monday, adding that the majority apex court verdict on the matter deals with the limited issue of the process of decision-making not with its outcomes.
The verdict has nothing to say on whether the stated objectives of demonetisation were met, AICC general secretary Jairam Ramesh said.
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“The Supreme Court verdict is on the process of demonetisation and not on its outcomes. If anybody has to apologise, it has to be the Prime Minister, because the ‘Tughlaki’ decision taken by him on November 8, 2016 destroyed lakhs of MSMEs, the informal sector, and livelihood of lakhs of people, and we continue to face the negative impact it had on our economy,” Ramesh said.
Congress leader Randeep Surjewala, however, said the SC verdict is “deeply disappointing” as the top court has failed to hold the BJP-led Union government accountable for its “monumental recklessness.” The dissenting verdict on demonetisation is a “slap on the wrist” of the government as it has pointed out the “illegality and irregularities” in the decision, added his colleague and former Union finance minister P Chidambaram.
The Supreme Court in a 4:1 majority verdict has upheld the government’s 2016 decision to demonetise Rs 1000 and Rs 500 denomination notes, saying the decision-making process was not flawed.
Justice B V Nagarathna dissented from the majority judgment of the Constitution bench headed by Justice S A Nazeer and said the scrapping of the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 series notes had to be done through a legislation and not through a notification.
“The majority Supreme Court verdict deals with the limited issue of the process of decision making not with its outcomes. “To say that demonetisation has been upheld by the Honourable Supreme Court is totally misleading and wrong,” said Ramesh.
“None of these goals - reducing currency in circulation, moving to cashless economy, curbing counterfeit currency, ending terrorism and unearthing black money-was achieved in significant measure,” he added.
Surjewala said the SC verdict on Demonetisation is “deeply disappointing.” “The Modi government subordinated the office of RBI, twisted the law for oblique purposes, bypassed Parliament and plunged India into a designed economic crisis. The SC failed to hold BJP Government accountable for its monumental recklessness,” he said on Twitter.
“Due to demonetisation, the poorest suffered, families were devastated and economy reeled under the decision for years. Yet all of documented suffering has escaped the attention of the court. Not holding the government accountable will only embolden it to commit more illegalities,” the Congress leader said.
Once the Supreme Court has declared the law, Chidambaram said, we are obliged to accept it.
“It may be only a slap on the wrist of the government, but a welcome slap on the wrist,” he said in a series of tweets.
“It is necessary to point out that the majority has not upheld the wisdom of the decision; nor has the majority concluded that the stated objectives were achieved. In fact, the majority has steered clear of the question whether the objectives were achieved at all,” he said.
The dissenting judgement will rank among the famous dissents recorded in the history of the Supreme Court, Chidambaram said.
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said the Supreme Court has pronounced a verdict only on the process of Demonetisation and none of the judgements commented on the outcome of it.
Also read | Is the economy still reeling from demonetisation?
“The SC hasn’t validated the demonetisation and nothing was opined on the outcomes of the policy,” he said.
“To say that demonetisation has been upheld by the Supreme Court is misleading and brazenly wrong,” he said.
Ramesh in a statement said that the Supreme Court has only pronounced on whether Section 26(2) of RBI Act, 1934 was correctly applied or not before announcing demonetisation on November 8 2016.
“Nothing more, nothing less. One judge in her dissenting opinion has said that Parliament should not have been bypassed,” he said.
In its verdict on Monday, the court said there has to be great restraint in matters of economic policy and the court cannot supplant the wisdom of the executive by a judicial review of its decision.
The bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai, A S Bopanna, and V Ramasubramanian, said the Centre’s decision-making process could not have been flawed as there was consultation between the RBI and the Union government.