Government has given "relaxation" wherever necessary on the demonetisation issue, Delhi High Court said today as it reserved its verdict for tomorrow on a petition seeking relaxation of the Rs 2.5 lakh withdrawal limit for marriages. "Relaxation has already been given wherever it is necessary," a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal told the counsel appearing for the petitioner who has also sought a direction to accept old currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 for paying fines and court fees till December end. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre, opposed the plea and said the government has already given certain exemptions but some conditions were needed so that nobody can misuse it. "We cannot have an unmeasured and uncanalised situation. We have given exemptions. For weddings, if we will not put conditions, anybody can get a marriage card printed and go to the bank to withdraw Rs 2.5 lakh," the ASG told the bench. In his plea, petitioner Birender Sangwan has alleged that the guidelines, which seeks detailed list of persons to whom the cash withdrawn is proposed to be paid for marriage and declaration from them that they do not have a bank account, were "arbitrary". The counsel said the cap of Rs 2.5 lakh withdrawal for marriages should be relaxed as there were various "customary donations" which one gives during the wedding ceremony. "Liberty must be given for marriages so that one can pay as per the customs. How can somebody give such an undertaking? As per the guidelines, even the priest who performs marriages has to give undertaking of not having a bank account.
The parents of the bride and groom should be allowed to withdraw money from their accounts without such arbitrary conditions," his counsel said.
When he raised the issue of payment of court fees, the bench asked the ASG "what do you say about the cost or fines imposed by courts? Can't it be paid in cash in old currency notes?"
In response, the ASG said "old currency notes are accepted for paying court fees" and the government has given various relaxation on issues concerning common people. He said that new currency note of Rs 500 was in circulation and Rs 100 and Rs 500 could also be used for paying the court fees.
At the fag end of the hearing, the petitioner's counsel told the bench that some kind of liberty should be given to the parents of the bride and the groom to withdraw money as per their requirements and the Rs 2.5 lakh cap should be relaxed. However, the bench said, "We will pass order tomorrow". In his plea, the petitioner has claimed that since there was "shortage of new currency", litigants and advocates were facing difficulty in depositing court fees. He sought a direction to make some interim arrangements so that people could fulfill the basic requirements of cash for wedding ceremony. The Supreme Court is also hearing a batch of petitions against the demonetisation move announced on November 8. It is hearing the Centre's plea seeking transfer of all petitions pending before various courts across the country to either the apex court or one high court. The hearing is scheduled on December 2. Last week, the Delhi High Court had made it clear that it will not go into the correctness of the demonetisation policy as the apex court is already seized of it. The observation had come while the high court was hearing a plea against the weekly withdrawal cap of Rs 24,000.