On November 8, RBI Had Only Rs 4.94 Lakh Crore In 2,000 Rupee Notes: RTI

On November 8, RBI Had Only Rs 4.94 Lakh Crore In 2,000 Rupee Notes: RTI

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RBI says it had 2,473 million pieces of 2,000 rupee notes on November 8.
New Delhi: On the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced scrapping of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes, RBI had only Rs 4.94 lakh crore in 2,000 rupee notes, which was approximately one-fourth of over Rs 20 lakh crore it had in demonetized currency notes.

An RTI response to Mumbai-based activist Anil Galgali from Reserve Bank of India says on November 8, it had Rs 9.13 lakh crore in 1,000 rupee notes while Rs 11.38 lakh crore in 500 rupee notes.

The RBI says it had 2,473 million pieces of 2,000 rupee notes on November 8 which had a value of over Rs 4.94 lakh crore.

Surprisingly, RBI withheld information about distribution of currency notes to banks between November 9 and November 19, citing section 8(1)(g) of the RTI Act which allows a public authority to withhold information disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person.

It also allows exemption to information disclosure of which would identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes.

The Bankers’ Bank did not give any reason as how this section would apply in the case of information sought by Galgali.

“Office wise/currency chest wise information about supplies of notes and stock position with respect to a reasonable period prior to the date of receipt of request is exempt from disclosure under section 8(1)(g) of the Right to Infomation Act, 2005,” the reply says.

“RBI was well aware of the gamble it was taking on a decision that would wreck havoc on lives of crores of Indian citizens. You need not be a financial expert to figure out this unwarranted hurry in demonetisation had to result in a financial crunch,” Galgali said.

He said with 86.69 per cent of available stock of currency notes being taken away from circulation and less than one-fourth (24.11 per cent) of these being replenished by newly printed 2,000 rupee notes, the decision to demonetise seems neither prudent, nor reasonable.

RBI had recently on its website put details of information which could not be disclosed under the RTI Act and this also includes distribution of currency from it to banks.

The move has come under question with former Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi approaching the Central Information Commission with a complaint that RBI is violating provisions of the RTI Act by not allowing disclosure of information in categories decided by it.

“Effectively, it means that RBI arrogates to itself the right to lay down exemptions to disclosure of information in line with the objectives of the Act. This is the sole prerogative of Parliament which has provided the exemptions to disclosure in Section 8 and 9 of the RTI Act,” Gandhi said.

He said it is an irony that the ‘Disclosure Policy’ only lists information which will not be disclosed in the garb of claiming exemptions under Section 8 (1) of the RTI Act.

“This is illegal and is certainly usurpation of the powers of the commission. RBI has no power under law to declare which information is exempt. That is the role of the commission.

“This is a very dangerous and illegal action, which could cause complete disruption of the working of RTI, if other public authorities follow this example. Public Information Officer of public authorities will then be following the illegal proclamation,” he said seeking the intervention of transparency panel to set aside this move.