File reply on card payment surcharge, HC asks Centre, RBI

New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Union government and the RBI to file replies on a PIL for framing of guidelines to prevent charging of surcharge on transactions through credit/debit cards.

A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal sought responses from the Finance Minister and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) within three weeks and posted the matter for March 1.

Advocate Amit Sahni, filing the plea, said card and cash payments are treated unequally due to the surcharge which he dubbed “arbitrary and against equality enshrined” in the Constitution.

The petition sought appropriate RBI guidelines to prevent this “discriminatory” surcharge.

“Illegal, unequal and arbitrary treatment is being given across the country on transactions done through credit/debit card by levying a surcharge of 2.5 per cent or more, while such surcharge is not levied when payment is done by cash,” the plea said.

“The said practice has not only caused discrimination but also promoted circulation of black money across the country. The indifferent or unequal treatment given in case payment is made through credit/debit card or in cash is arbitrary and against the equality of law, as enshrined in the Constitution of India,” said the petitioner.

He said India is one of the most cash-intensive economies in the world and there is urgent need to incentivise credit/debit card transactions and dis-incentivise cash transactions.