The government on Tuesday drew flak from the opposition amid confusion over RBI’s new curbs on depositing more than Rs 5,000 in scrapped notes even after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said any amount of old currency can be deposited in banks in one go and without questions being asked.
But despite Jaitley’s clarification on Monday night, the central bank didn’t amend its notification that said amounts exceeding Rs 5,000 in 500 and 1,000 rupee notes can be deposited till December 30 after explaining to bank officials the reasons for not having done it earlier.
The Finance Minister at an event on Tuesday didn’t give a direct reply when reporters asked him about the government’s flip-flop on allowing the deposit of old notes after the November 8 decision to recall the high-value currency bills.
“Whoever has old currency must go and deposit it in one go. If somebody goes every day, it raises suspicion. Since exemptions have been lifted, whoever has old currency must deposit it in one go,” Jaitley said. He didn’t elaborate.
Pawan Kumar, Manager of the Punjab National Bank in Noida Sector 16, told IANS that the RBI directive was aimed at stopping people from depositing money for others and coming to banks over and again.
But he said questions would be asked and customers needed to satisfy their banks “why you were not able to deposit the old currency till now”.
“We only need a reason from you. This move is to thwart those candidates who are depositing money on behalf of others and have been frequenting banks for this purpose,” the manager said.
The issue reached the Supreme Court on Tuesday with Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh urging it to put on hold the latest RBI order.
Amarinder Singh urged the apex court to treat his petition as a public interest litigation as the government was causing havoc with changing rules daily. People were facing immense hardship due to the currency ban, he said.
Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram lashed out at a “desperate government resorting to desperate measures” and said the new cap on deposits left the “poor and middle class high and dry”.
“RBI makes new rules on deposit, FM (Finance Minister) contradicts. Who should citizen believe? Neither has credibility,” Chidambaram tweeted.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the “Reserve Bank of India was changing rules like the PM changes his clothes”.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) dubbed the curbs “whimsical and anti-people” and demanded its immediate retraction and also other restrictions on using and depositing the old tender until alternative arrangements were made.
“In fact, the latest order is because almost all the notes taken out of circulation have come back into the banking system exposing the fraudulent claims that black money will be eliminated,” the CPI-M said.
It said the government was making the life of common people, especially farmers, “miserable by the latest restrictions”.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said the nation had got “a weak” Prime Minister who changes his decision every other day.
AAP leader Ashutosh said since the demonetisation was announced, the government had issued a total of 59 notifications, changing the rules to exchange or deposit old notes.
“I feel that under no other Prime Minister the government has changed its decisions so many times so quickly,” Ashutosh said.
“The nation needed a strong Prime Minister. But what we have got instead is a weak Prime Minister who is so confused that he changes his decisions every day.”