Is The RBI Really As Clueless As People Are Making It Out To Be?A bank staff member counts Indian 500 rupee notes to give to customers. (INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

A Right To Information (RTI) query filed by activist Anil Galgali in December 2016 has led to an interesting revelation from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The RBI has said the information sought in the application was not available with them. The application had asked for:

- Inventory of the old denomination notes of Rs 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000

- Quantity of notes printed in denominations of Rs 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 2,000 from 9 November

- Distribution data of individual notes

- Inventory of the new Rs 2,000 and Rs 5,00 notes with the RBI currency chests on 8 November

The RBI provided the figures for the first and fourth points. For the information on distribution data, however, the response was deferred; the RBI said it was exempt from the RTI Act under Section 8(1)(g) in this case.

But what stood out was the RBI’s response to the question on the volume of new notes being printed. The RBI transferred the query, under Section 6(3), to the Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran Private Limited, Bengaluru, and the Security Printing and Minting Corporation Limited, New Delhi, saying the data was not available with them as they don’t do the printing.

The response to Anil Galgali’s RTI query
The response to Anil Galgali’s RTI query

However, the media seems to have taken a mischievous stand on the issue, claiming that the RBI had to have this particular data. Some even reported that the RBI had “refused” to respond to the query even when, in fact, it had forwarded the query to the agency that would possess the data.

If the RTI query had instead asked for the volume of notes received by the RBI from the security presses, the country’s central bank would have been able to provide a figure.

This nuance seemed to be lost on some sections of the media.

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