Marriages are made in Heaven, money in courts, currency notes in mints and acrimony in homes. Hell is made when all of them meet.
Mr. and Mrs. Seal were involved in a divorce case, in a Kolkata family court. The man was asked to pay an amount to his ex-wife. Americans proudly announce their divorce settlements. Elsewhere, there is a prolonged tug-of-war. The poor? The husband was dragged to court for non-compliance. He agreed to pay. That too, in cash. He would make the payment in court in front of the judge. He did. The wife refused to accept the money.
Our dear man had laid the money on the table in old notes, which Narendra Modi had just declared to be pieces of paper. The amount was Rs. 2.25 lakh, in Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes. Mr. Seal had brought the money; Mrs Seal did not want it. How was the honourable judge to settle the issue?
Miya na razi, bibi na razi,
To kya karay bechara kazi?
You be the judge.
The judge sent the husband to jail for a month.
The husband is appealing the verdict. He may get out of jail shortly; but why was he convicted in the first place? Let us ask ourselves that question.
A few days ago, there was a report that a van
filled with old notes had been seized. If one gets caught with billions of
rupees, one is answerable to the income-tax authorities. One must explain
the source of currency. After demonetisation, even a mountain of bank notes
in one's possession cannot be a crime. It is not money that is in his
possession, but tonnes of paper - raddi. The government has declared it to be so.
In the context of what is said above, Mr Seal was, in effect, playing a fraud on the court. He wanted to pass off loads of junk paper as legitimate money. He was, therefore, guilty of passing off counterfeit cash, that too, in court, one month being too short a time. We are with the judge on that, piqued though he might be. But what was his advocate doing? Why did he not prevent his client from such a disaster?
We often talk of equity. What if the husband had handed over the cash a day before? He could have. The depositing of cash, immediately after the declaration, meant he had the resources, but was procrastinating. That, too, would get the judge’s goat. Counterfeiting coupled with contempt? More than likely. One does not throw dice in court.
What if the woman had accepted the cash? If I were her advocate, I would have advised it. Cash is at the top of all balance sheets and, as my late finance director always said, nothing works better. Say ‘Yes’, but with a rider. She would try to exchange it as swiftly as possible; but, if unable, the husband would still have to make good the balance. Her
counselor failed on another count too. She could have deposited all the amount into her account; then declared that she had got it under a court order!
Would she have made an illegal move? No. Old notes are on a pendulum. At one end, one can refuse; on the other, there is no law against accepting, especially when it is done legitimately, in open court - in pursuance of its order.
’ correct terminology? As catchy as ‘surgical strike’, the currency in hand is actually in limbo. It exists, but cannot be used. It can be exchanged, its value, post-exchange, being left intact, thereby giving a lie to the word associated with it. If four Rs. 500 notes fetch you one Rs. 2,000 note, it is the reverse of demonetisation, where notes worth millions in face value are exchanged with notes of far lower denomination, but with higher worth.
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