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

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Bhadra Sinha bhadra.sinha@hin­dus­tan­times.com Bhadra Sinha bhadra.sinha@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.

PRATIK CHORGE/HT

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