Tuesday 1 December, 2020

SDMS sends pre-action letters to AG, Central Bank, Imbert over $100s

The Santan Dharma Maha Sabha and its acting Secretary-General, Vijay Maharaj, have retained lawyers to sue the government over revisions to the Miscellaneous Provisions (Proceeds of Crime and Central Bank) Act, 2019 and the Central Bank Act.

The amendments allow for the Government to demonetize currency within a minimum of 14 days.

The $100 note is the first to have been pulled with the deadline being December 31, 2019, to make the change.

Attorney Rhea Khan is leading a team of four lawyers to challenge the move the SDMS deems as "irrational, disproportionate, harsh and an oppressive exercise of power".

A pre-action protocol letter has been sent to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and separate ones are expected to be issued to Finance Minister Colm Imbert and Central Bank Governor Dr Alvin Hillaire. 

"We are of the view that material configurations were not taken into account in arriving at this decision, particularly the sheer volume of currency, the extreme inconvenience to the citizenry and the incompatibility of existing facilities and technology to process the quantum of conversion required," the pre-action letter said. 

Pointing to the tedious task ahead, attorney Khan notes the old $100 currency accounts for 90% of the $7.65 billion bills in circulation.

She also cites unofficial claims that people who do not use banks are being charged $5 and $10 to switch.

On behalf of her clients, the lawyer is arguing that the amendments infringe on the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed under Section 4(a) and 4(b) of the Constitution, ie:

i) The right of the individual to enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law; and

ii) The right of the individual to equality before the law and protection of the law.

The SDMS and its acting Secretary-General are seeking a repeal, costs and any other relief the court deems appropriate. 

Attorney Khan says subsequent action will be taken without further notice unless the AG, Finance Minister or Central Bank Governor gives an undertaking.


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