As if the demonetisation move wasn’t enough to cause for concern, the ordinary citizen is now learning that the new Rs. 500 notes, introduced weeks ago to replace the scrapped ones, have defects. Early reports suggest that two different versions of the same currency note have surfaced with discrepancies in design, size and even shape. In addition to further adding fuel to the fire of public chaos, counterfeiters too may benefit from this lamentable incident. The Reserve Bank of India, for its part, was forced to clarify that the defect could be due to “rush” in printing and that people could either use these notes or return them to the RBI, the issuer.
In one reported case, a Delhi resident alleged that the note had ‘visible shadows of every object’, including the image of Gandhi and the national emblem . Apparently, there are multiple shadows on Gandhi’s face Also, the alignment of the national emblem and serial numbers on the note are different. The space between the security thread and the RBI logo on both the variants differ as well. Some of the items on the note are also placed in varying areas, leading people to believe that there are two variations of the same currency note and creating confusion on which variety and design is the original.
A resident of Gurugram is said to have noticed the size of borders to be unequal in two notes. Furthermore, a Mumbai resident has come up with two notes with two different colour tones, one lighter than the others.
Commenting on the discrepancies, RBI spokesperson Alpana Killawala said, “It is likely that notes with printing defect has got released due to the current rush. However, people can freely accept such a note in transaction or return it to RBI.”
The former Home Secretary GK Pillai was quoted as saying that counterfeiting Indian currency notes is easier in Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan since they now have “sophisticated” mechanisms. Major Indian intelligence agencies like the RAW (Research and Analysis Wing), Intelligence Bureau and the DRI (Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, run by officers of the Central Excise and Customs Department) are said to have examined the features on the notes being secretly printed for the past six months. Experts have urged the need to check bank-notes thoroughly before accepting them, as these discrepancies may increase the chances of counterfeit notes being used either on purpose or out of ignorance. We shall keep all updates posted as soon as the RBI or the government issues them.