Currency crisis: SC warns of riots, censures Centre Apex Court, govt face-off likely over picking judges
Apex Court refuses to stay hearings on pleas, asks why exchange limit cut
The SC came down hard on the government on Friday for not doing enough to ease the cash crunch in the country, warning that the situation was serious and people were still so anxious that there could be riots. The government’s decision to scrap high-value currency has led to chaos, with snaking queues outside banks and ATMs 10 days after the decision.
“People are affected and they have the right to approach the courts. People are frantic. There may be riots,” said a bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice AR Dave. The court refused the government’s request to put on hold petitions pending in various high courts challenging the decision to scrap `500 and `1,000 banknotes. “Multiple petitions show the kind of problems people are facing. They are going to high court for relief. If we shut them from going to the high court, how can we know the magnitude of the problem?” the judges argued. Adjourning the matter for November 25, the court said it might move pleas pending in other high courts to the one in Delhi.
Defending the government move, its top law officer, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, said steps had been taken to ease people’s hardship, but there were still some problems in moving cash quickly to banks, ATMs and post offices. A teller hands over the new Rs2,000 note at a bank in Bhandup on Friday.
A panel of top three Supreme Court judges led by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur has overruled the Centre’s objection to 43 names cleared by the collegium for appointment as judges to the high courts of Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.
The panel met on November 16 and stood by its decision on the names, while returning the file back to the Centre that had asked the collegium to reconsider its recommendations.
The Centre and the top court are at loggerheads over judicial appointments since the SC struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act. The law was brought in to end the more than 20-year-old practice, unique to India, of judges appointing judges under the collegium system, with the government having no say in the process. “We have reiterated 43 names for HC judges. You can inform the government and ask them to go ahead with the process to appoint them,” a bench headed by Thakur told attorney general Mukul Rohatgi.
The bench was hearing a batch of petitions pointing out shortage of judges in HCs and seeking a direction to the government to speed up the appointments.