A man shows 500 rupees note as the Prime minister ordered to ban 500 and 1000 rupees notes as part of NDA government’s fight against black money and corruption. (Source: PTI)

RBI Says No Data On Demonetised Rs 500, Rs 1,000 Notes Used At Petrol Pumps

The Reserve Bank of India in a reply to a Right To Information query said it has no data on the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes used to pay for utility bills such as fuel at petrol pumps, which are believed to have formed a good part of the demonetised currency that returned to the banking system.

After the Nov. 8, 2016 shock decision to ban the use of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the government had allowed the exchange of the junked notes as well as they being used for payment of utility bills for 23 services.

Both Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes could be used at government hospitals, railway ticketing, public transport, airline ticketing at airports, milk booths, crematoria/burial grounds, petrol pumps, metro rail tickets, purchase of medicines on doctor prescription from the government and private pharmacies, gas cylinders, railway catering, electricity and water bills, Archaeological Survey of India monument entry tickets and highway toll.

Also read: Tax Department To Scrutinise 87,000 Assessees Who Made Large Deposits During Demonetisation

On Nov. 25, 2016, the exchange of old notes was stopped and the government allowed the use of only old Rs 500 notes at these utilities till Dec. 15, 2016. The government, however, stopped the use of even this currency at petrol pumps and for the purchase of air tickets at airports abruptly with effect from Dec. 2, 2016, after reports that they were becoming fronts for laundering of old currency notes.

In reply to the RTI query, the RBI said: “information on (invalidated) notes used for paying utility bills is not available with us”.

As much as 99.3 percent of the junked Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes have returned to the banking system, the RBI had stated in August last year, indicating that just a miniscule percentage of currency was left out of the system after the government's unprecedented note ban aimed at curbing black money and corruption.

On the issue of number and value of invalidated or demonetised currency notes being exchanged, the RBI in the RTI reply referred to a Nov. 28, 2016 press statement where it had stated that "Banks have since reported that such exchange/deposits effected from November 10, 2016, up to November 27, 2016 amounted to Rs 8,44,982 crore (exchange amounted to Rs 33,948 crore and deposits amounted to Rs 8,11,033 crore).

Also read: Share Of Card Payments In Consumption Spending Has Doubled Since Demonetisation, Says Bernstein

Specified Bank Notes Mystery

The Reserve Bank of India also said it did not have information on the number of Specified Bank Notes used to buy KYC-compliant instruments like insurance policies. Specified Bank Notes or SBN is the term used to denote the demonetised currency which was allowed to be deposited in bank accounts till Dec. 30, 2016.

The central bank referred a part of the RTI to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India, which also stated that it does not have information on old notes used to pay for insurance policies as "it is not maintained by the Authority".