The Congress alleged Tuesday that two kinds of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes, differing in size and design, were printed post-demonetisation and are currently in circulation. Rajya Sabha witnessed disruptions through the day as the Congress, supported by the Trinamool Congress and JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav, forced adjournments over the issue. Amid continuous slogan-shouting, the House was adjourned six times before a final adjournment minutes after 2.30 pm. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Congress was raising frivolous issues. Later, the Congress held a press conference to say the printing of such notes jeopardises the credibility of Indian currency and demanded answers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government. It gave a presentation on the features of the notes.
As Rajya Sabha began, slogan-shouting Congress members trooped into the well. They were supported by Sharad Yadav displaying copies of currency notes, while TMC’s Derek O’Brien displayed new Rs 500 notes to show them as differently sized. He offered to submit these to Jaitley and walked up to him to explain the difference, but did not leave the notes with the finance minister. Jaitley said there is no provision in the rules that anyone could “flash any paper and say it is a point of order”. “There is a misuse of zero hour which is going on,” he said, adding the Congress first raised the issue of NOTA in the Rajya Sabha poll but then found that this provision had been made during its own rule.
“You have been raising frivolous issues in the zero hour without giving notice” with a view to disrupting and not getting replies, he said, but did not reply to the Opposition contentions on differently sized notes.
Raising the issue through a point of order, Sibal said different sizes were being printed — “one for the ruling party and one for the others”. “We have today discovered the reason why the government did demonetisation,” he said. While Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and the Congress’s Anand Sharma attacked the government, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi countered the charge. Deputy chairman P J Kurien said even if there are two types of notes, it cannot be a point of order. “You raise the issue in a different form.” After six adjournments, resumption at 2.30 pm saw Congress members again creating noisy scenes, saying they wanted to raise a point of order. Kurien refused to allow it: “I have to go by rule book.”
After the House was adjourned for the day, Sibal said at the press conference the standard size of the new Rs 500 note is 66mm × 150mm and that of the Rs 2,000 note 66mm × 166mm. “But we have got notes which are of different sizes. I have a note which is 153mm long. Some notes are 151mm long… the features are also different and so is the design… the question is why and what for?” Sibal said.
“Is it for giving some benefit to someone,” he asked. “Where were these notes printed, in India or abroad…. in which printing press…”
Sibal said Congress would keep flagging the issue in Parliament until the government gives an explanation. “Why this has happened….We have a suspicion…but we would not say anything because it is a matter of inquiry,” he said. “It is important to note that these notes are not counterfeit since they are all printed under the aegis of RBI and the Ministry of Finance, incorporating most of the security features…” he added.