Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel and a number of Finance Ministry officials, including the revenue and finance secretaries, have been summoned by a parliamentary committee before January 20 to respond to 10 questions about the Centre’s demonetisation drive, Reuters reported. The Public Accounts Committee, led by Congress leader KV Thomas, has asked Patel why he should not be removed from his position for “abuse of power”.
“If there are no laws that you can cite, why should you not be prosecuted?”, the panel asked the RBI governor in a questionnaire dated December 30. Patel was also asked to elaborate on how and by whom the decision on the currency ban was made. He was also asked to explain the impact of demonetisation on the economy and the names of the officials taken into confidence before the decision was finalised, The Indian Express reported.
The committee also sought details on the exact amount of the demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes received since the move was announced on November 8 and the initial expectation. It further questioned the central bank’s rejection of Right to Information queries on the note ban on the grounds of “inane reasons such as fear of personal injury”.
Thomas told Reuters that the committee had decided to postpone the summons as “Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked citizens for 50 days to implement the demonetisation programme.” He added that the committee did not want to give the summons a “political colour”.
The RBI has been under fire from several sides over its implementation of the demonetisation drive. On January 4, citizens had staged protests outside the central bank’s premises in New Delhi and Mumbai after staffers refused to exchange the scrapped notes. The country grappled with a cash crunch following the Modi government’s move to demonetise the high-value bills, which had accounted for 86% of the currency in circulation in India at that time.