High Court seeks centre reply on surcharge on debit, credit card payments

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today sought response of the Centre and RBI on a plea against the “illegal” surcharge levied on transactions done through debit and credit cards across the country while no such charge is imposed on cash payments.

Man paying by credit card at a restaurant.
Man paying by credit card at a restaurant.

A bench comprising Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath issued notice to Ministry of Finance and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) directing them to file an affidavit before August 19 on the plea which also sought direction to frame guidelines so as to prevent “unlawful” and “discriminatory” surcharge being levied on debit and credit card transactions.

Advocate Amit Sahni, in his PIL, had said the “unlawful, unequal and arbitrary treatment is visible on the payment of petrol charges through credit and debit cards”.

The petitioner had also said the ministry and RBI are “responsible for making rules/guidelines and for monitoring banks across the country”.

He mentioned in his PIL that levying surcharge is not only illegal and discriminatory but it also promotes circulation of black money in cash.

“The petitioner has noticed that illegal, unequal and arbitrary treatment is seen across the country on transactions being done through credit and debit cards by levying surcharge at the rate of 2.5 per cent or more, while such surcharge is not levied when the payment of such transaction is done by making cash payment in that regard…,” the plea stated.

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