Jaitley defends secrecy over note ban

Washington: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has defended the government’s decision to maintain secrecy over demonetisation, saying transparency in this case would have been the “greatest instrument of fraud”.

Jaitley, who is on a week-long visit to the US to attend the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, also said that the series of reforms like demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has put the Indian economy on a “far more stronger track”.

“These are institutional reforms. These are structural changes. And these structural changes, I think have put the Indian economy on a far more sound track so that we can look forward for a much cleaner much bigger India economy in the days and years to come,” Jaitley said, addressing the students of the prestigious Columbia University in New York.

He said that announcing the demonetisation initiative in advance could have resulted in people buying gold, diamond and land and going through various kinds of transactions with the cash they had.

“Transparency is a very nice word. But transparency in this case (of demonetisation) would have been the greatest instrument of fraud,” Jaitley said.

‘SC ruling on privacy protects Aadhaar’

The recent Supreme Court order on the right to privacy lays down the correct exemptions which protects Aadhaar, the Finance Minister said.

Jaitley, at the annual meet, was responding to a question at the prestigious Columbia University on how the government is planning to handle Aadhaar after the recent Supreme Court decision on the right to privacy.

In its judgement in August, a nine-judge bench decreed that that right to privacy is part of the fundamental rights to life and liberty enshrined in the Constitution.

“I do believe that the Supreme Court judgement on the privacy matter in accordance with the current timing is a correct judgement. It lays down the correct exceptions which protects Aadhaar,” Jaitley told students.

“Article 21 reads that no person can be deprived of his right to life and liberty without procedures established by the law. That procedure has to be fair and just,” he said.

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