The currency-printing subsidiary of Reserve Bank of India has to reveal data on Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes printed after demonetisation, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has said, rejecting arguments that such disclosure will hurt India’s economic interests.
The Bhartiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran (P) Limited claimed that sharing information on printing of currency and related activities will result in "proliferation of counterfeit currency and economic chaos”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8, 2016 announced that Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, which constituted 86 per cent of total currency in circulation, would cease to be legal tender.
They were replaced by new Rs 2000 and Rs 500 currency notes, but their erratic supply saw empty ATMs and long lines of people outside banks trying to cope with rationing of currency.
A man called Harinder Dhingra had approached the CIC after he failed to get a satisfactory response to his RTI application seeking to know the number of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes printed between November 9 and November 30, 2016.
The currency printer told Bhargava that the nature of currency printing and related activities call for "utmost exclusivity and confidentiality" and information like features of the note, its raw material, printing, stocking, and transport cannot be shared.
It also claimed Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act exempts such information to be revealed. Disclosing the information will affect the sovereignty and security of India, the printer said.
Information Commissioner Sudhir Bhargava rejected the arguments, and said the data on total number of currency notes printed daily relates to a past event and is not sensitive.
It cannot be presumed that disclosing the data would lead to revealing other information about printing of currency notes like raw material, printing, stocking and transport, he said.
"Further, the CPIO was unable to establish as to how disclosure of the said information would prejudicially affect the economic interests of the country," Bhargava said ordering disclosure of the information, referring to Chief Public Information Officer.