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Possession of demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes beyond March 31, 2017 is Illegal

People can deposit old notes in banks up to December 30 and with the Reserve Bank of India up to March 31 next year

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old notes to become illeagal by 2017
Indian Currency. Pixabay
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New Delhi, December 28, 2016:  The cabinet on Wednesday approved an ordinance which makes possession of demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes beyond March 31, 2017 illegal, providing for a jail term for violators.

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The opposition, however, questioned the logic behind the ordinance and termed the government policy as “rudderless and confused”. It also accused the government of repeatedly bypassing the Parliament over demonetisation and otrher issues.

People can deposit old notes in banks up to December 30 and with the Reserve Bank of India up to March 31 next year.

Official sources said the ordinance — called “The Specified Bank Notes Cessation of liabilities Ordinance” — will be sent to President Pranab Mukherjee, currently in Hyderabad, for approval before notification.

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The ordinance, approved during the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeks to amend the Reserve Bank of India Act, aimed at extinguishing the liability of the government towards bearers of such notes.

Sources declined comment on whether the ordinance also sought a jail term for violators. “The ordinance primarily seeks to shield the government against future litigations that may follow for not honoring the promise to pay,” a senior official said.

However, the ordinance makes it clear that collection of old notes up to ten in number will not invite prosecution.

Reacting to the developments, a senior Congress leader told IANS: “Is it proper to pass an ordinance on a matter which is sub judiceIJ I think this is a cover up operation to legalize the demonetization order because even its veracity is under judicial scanner.

He also questioned the logic behind bringing an ordinance barely a month before the next Parliament session.

Trinamool Congress (TMC) Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy called the NDA dispensation as “government of ordinances”.

“The government has gone berserk. They are bringing one notification after another. They are suffering from utter confusion…there is no cohesion between the government and the RBI,” Roy told IANS.

Janata Dal United (JDU) leader K.C. Tyagi called the government policy on demonetisation as “rudderless”.

“On one hand the Prime Minister has said that after March 31 next year, the old currency notes would be ‘kagaz ke tukre’ (worthless pieces of paper). Now where on earth is it illegal to possess worthless paper,” Tyagi asked.

“Ever since November 8 they have brought 61 notifications. This shows their bewilderment and lack of policy direction,” Tyagi told IANS.

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said the government has chosen this back door ordinance method to bring in the law.

“We are against this ordinance raj,” he said.

–IANS

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Adultery Law Gets Scrapped: Another Progressive Step In India

Misra is stepping down as chief justice next week when he turns 65, the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court judges. 

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A gardener works on the lawns of the Supreme Court in New Delhi, India, Aug. 22, 2017. India's Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has presided over a string of verdicts in recent weeks that grant more rights to women, gay couples and religious minorities as he prepares to retire from the bench next month. VOA

The chief justice of  Supreme Court of India has presided over a string of recent rulings that grant more rights to women, gay couples and religious minorities, challenging deeply conservative Indian society before he retires next month.

In the latest decision Thursday, Chief Justice Dipak Misra and the rest of the five-member court struck down a 158-year-old law that treated adultery in certain cases as a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison.

The court called the law, which did not allow wives to prosecute adulterous husbands, unconstitutional and noted that a “husband is not the master of woman.” Adultery can still be grounds for divorce in India, the verdict said, but a criminal penalty violated women’s protection to equal rights under the law.

Accolades for ruling

The verdict was hailed by activists and left-of-center members of India’s Parliament.

“Excellent decision,” tweeted Sushmita Dev, a lawmaker and president of the opposition Congress party’s women’s wing. She said “a law that does not give women the right to sue her adulterer husband … is unequal treatment and militates against her status as an individual.”

India
Participants displays a rainbow flag and cheer as gay rights activists and their supporters march during a gay pride parade in New Delhi, India. VOA

Amnesty International India said the decision was “a progressive judgment” and the old law was a “remnant of a time when a woman was considered to be the property of her husband.”

The scrapped law allowed men to file charges against other men who had affairs with their wives. Women having affairs could not be prosecuted, but they also couldn’t file a complaint against cheating husbands.

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Gay couples, religious minorities

Earlier this month, the Misra-led court also struck down a colonial-era law that made gay sex punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The 1861 law, a relic of Victorian England that hung on long after the end of British colonialism, was “a breach of the rights of privacy and dignity,” the court ruled. It added that “history owes an apology to the members of this community and their families, for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy and ostracism that they have suffered through the centuries.”

On Thursday, the court also decided not to reconsider a 1994 decision that would have delayed proceedings in a case over the ownership of the site of a mosque that Hindu hard-liners demolished in 1992.

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Indian Muslim women talk while walking through a market in Ahmadabad, India. VOA

Fast pace for India

The court’s recent pace of decisions speaks to another feature of Misra’s tenure: expediting cases in a country where they routinely take decades to resolve.

There are 33 million court cases pending in India, government figures show.

Misra is stepping down as chief justice next week when he turns 65, the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court judges.

Also Read: What Would Be The Outcome of The Judgement on Homosexuality with BJP at The Centre?

He joined India’s highest court in 2011. His 13-month tenure as chief justice has won him accolades from advocates of disadvantaged groups but drawn unprecedented criticism from other members of the bench.

In January, the four most senior justices held a news conference against Misra, who as chief justice controls the court’s roster and decides who will take which cases, listing a litany of problems that they said afflicted the court and risked undermining India’s democracy. Misra met with the dissenting judges, who continued on the bench. (VOA)