Demonetization: is the very step constitutionally valid?

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demonetisation_noteTwo months since we bid our farewells to the lovely yellow and orange notes stuffed in the wallets, yet the loss of them hasn’t yet presided! The heartbreak is being taken care off slowly but it isn’t as consoling nor is the replacement fulfilling enough to let go of the past. They say that a man never craves for something he owns. Demonetization has only taught us the ways and tactics how to grab attention again: seize, promise, make them fall and achieve silence. But besides this sensitive issue, has it brushed any other? The answer probably is learnt by rote.

The greater question here is whether the very act of DEMONETIZATION is constitutionally valid? Such a major decision being eluded from the Parliament and the rule of law and is a straight defiance to the directive principles of our living Constitution. The concept of Rule of Law is an ancient ideal, Plato wrote, “…. If law is the master of the Government and the Government is its slave, then the situation is full of promise and men enjoy all the blessings that Gods shower on the state”.  The Constitution of India intended for India to be a country governed by the rule of law.

No policy, irrespective of its size, is immune from the strict scrutiny of the judiciary and yet we see that this very step was untouched by any democratic discourse.  The street anchors on India’s democracy have been escaped for this exercise of power. According to section 22, the central Government shall have no power to issue currency notes; furthermore, demonetization assaults the very constitutionality of section 26(2) of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, on the grounds of excessive delegation. Section26(2) states that only after recommendation from the central board of RBI can the central government cease the notes to be legal tender. But here we see the illegal exercise of power as the government fixed “things” with its own determination.

 The RBI ought to be an independent body insulated from the executive as well as other political influences. The central government and the RBI have an obligation to bring on record the minutes of the meetings leading to recommendation from the RBI.  So maybe we could confer that no such recommendations were ever given!

Even if we take that secrecy was necessary before 8th November, then what about after it? There isn’t any policy which can escape discussion in the parliament. A debate with all particulars is the duty of the Government and yet it did not emerge. So why blame the opposition for throwing paper darts?

The long-term effect of demonetization is yet to come. Deaths, loss of job and economic slowdown are the immediate effect of the demonetization. This reflected government’s unpreparedness on this crucial issue, it seems government worked with its own fancy and whims only to divert common men’s attention for the failures it promised to keep. UP, Punjab and other three states assembly election also fueled the government’s move.


About Sahar Rizvi

The author is currently pursuing her graduation in Economics from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi

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