India’s central bank refused to disclose the cost of destroying banned notes after demonetisation

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  • India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, refused to state the cost incurred in the destruction of banned currency notes when questioned by Right to Information (RTI) activist.

  • However, the bank revealed that of the total junked currency, ₹107.2 billion did not return to the banking system post demonetisation.

  • The invalidated notes were destroyed through the currency verification machines and processing system.
A large amount of money was returned to the banks post demonetisation but when the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was questioned under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, it refused to reveal the cost of destroying the banned currency amounting to nearly ₹15.3 trillion.

In response to a query by Chandrashekhar Gaud, posted on 29 October under the RTI Act, RBI got away with saying that the process of destruction of the banned currency notes was over by March 2018.

The bank also mentioned that the invalidated notes worth ₹107.2 billion did not return to the banking system in the first place.

On further questioning by Gaud, on how much the destruction of banned currency cost, the reply had no numbers from RBI.

In fact, the bank said that the information was unavailable and that providing it would ‘disproportionately divert the resources’, citing Section 7(9) of the RTI Act.

All of this information was sourced from the Department of Currency Management of RBI, which said that the banned currency was destroyed through the currency verification machines.

Questions unanswered

Even on being asked about the number of ₹500 and ₹1000 notes that were destroyed, the bank had nothing to offer. However, the bank had earlier informed the public that nearly 99.3% of the total demonetised money was returned to the bank.

During the advocated time-frame of demonetisation the RBI successfully aggregated ₹15.3 trillion. But, if we go back to when demonetisation was originally announced, in November 2016, over 15.4 trillion in denominations of ₹500 and ₹1000 were in circulation.
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