Mumbai: It's not the end for soiled, scribbled currency notes

Sunday, 22 December 2013 - 9:16am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
RBI's Clean Note Policy won't affect customers.

With 2013 coming to an end, some believe it is also the end for scribbled currency notes. The social media is abuzz with ‘warnings’ that banks will stop accepting notes with any scribbles on them from January 2014. This, however, isn’t true.

The confusion stems from a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) circular issued on August 14 this year, urging banks “to issue suitable instructions to all dealing officers and staff to forthwith stop writing or scribbling of any kind on any part of the banknote (currency notes).”

This was part of the central bank’s ‘Clean Note Policy’ under which all soiled and scribbled currency notes, once submitted to the RBI, are not reissued for circulation. The RBI destroys such notes by shredding or briquetting and issues fresh ones into the system through banks.

“Nowhere have we said that banks should not accept notes on which something is written or scribbled,” a spokesperson of the RBI told dna. “The purpose was to discourage the practice of writing or scribbling on the body of notes in banks so as to achieve the objectives of the Clean Note Policy,” the official added.

As per RBI guidelines, soiled banknotes can be exchanged for full value at any bank. However, if the banknote is ‘mutilated’ or torn to a great extent, it can be exchanged for half its value.

Either way, banks cannot turn away people who wish to exchange soiled or mutilated or scribbled notes. “All banks are authorised to accept soiled currency notes for full value. They are expected to extend the facility of exchange of soiled notes even to non-customers,” said the RBI.

“Customers will not get impacted by RBI’s Clean Note Policy. Banks cannot ask their branch staff to stop accepting any soiled or scribbled currency notes,” said a zonal manager of a Chennai-based public sector bank.

Time and again, the RBI requests people to respect banknotes by not making garlands, decorating pandals and places of worship or showering them on personalities at social events.

“Such actions deface the notes and shorten their life,” said an RBI official. The central bank has also advised not to staple notes or put a rubber stamp or any other mark on them.

The RBI disposed of 14 billion banknotes and supplied 18.8 billion fresh ones in the last financial year. In all, there were 73.5 billion notes worth Rs1,160 crore value in the system as on March 31, 2013.

The issue
The confusion stems from a RBI circular issued on August 14, urging banks “to issue suitable instructions to all dealing officers and staff to forthwith stop writing or scribbling of any kind on any part of the banknote (currency notes).”

This was part of its ‘Clean Note Policy’ under which all soiled and scribbled currency notes, once submitted to the RBI, are not reissued for circulation. The RBI destroys such notes and issues fresh ones into the system through banks


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