Delhi HC asks RBI to respond to PIL seeking uniform banking code for foreign exchange transactions

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The Delhi High Court on December 5 sought the response of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to a PIL seeking implementation of a Uniform Banking Code for foreign exchange transactions to check black money generation and benami transactions.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad issued notice to the RBI while observing the matter deserves a detailed hearing.

The high court also granted six more weeks to the Centre to file a reply to the petition and listed the matter for further hearing on March 20.

It had earlier issued notice to the Centre through ministries of Home Affairs, Law and Justice and Finance, and asked them to respond to the petition.

On Monday, Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, representing the Centre, submitted the petitioner has raised a serious issue which shall be considered by the government.

The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by petitioner and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay raising loop holes in the system in relation to transfer of foreign funds which could be used by separatists, Naxals, Maoists, fundamentalists, and terrorists.

The petition has sought direction to ensure that Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) and Instant Money Payment System (IMPS) are not used for depositing foreign money in Indian banks.

The petitioner has said it is not only harming the foreign exchange reserve of India but also being used to provide money to separatists, fundamentalists, Naxals, Maoists, terrorists, traitors, conversion mafias and radical organisations like the SIMI and PFI.

He has submitted that immigration rules for visa are the same whether a foreigner comes in business class or economy class, uses Air India or British Airways, and comes from USA or Uganda.

Likewise, the deposit details in Indian banks, including foreign bank branches for foreign exchange transactions, must be in the same format whether it is export payment in a current account or salary in a savings account or donation in charities current account or service charges payable in a YouTuber’s accounts. The format should be uniform whether it is converted by Western Union or National Bank or an India-based foreign bank, the plea has said.

“Foreign Inward Remittance Certificate (FIRC) must be issued and all international and Indian banks must send the link through SMS to get FIRC automatically in case foreign exchange is being deposited in the account as converted INR.

“Moreover, only a person or company should be permitted to send Indian rupees from one bank account to another bank account inside the territory of India through RTGS, NEFT and IMPS and international banks should not be allowed to use these domestic banking transactions tools,” it has said.

The plea has also sought direction that foreign exchange transactions through Indian banks and foreign bank branches in India must have information like the name and mobile number of the depositor, International Money Transfer (IMT) and not RTGS/NEFT/IMPS and name of currency.

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