The government is investigating more than 60% of the money deposited in 37 million Jan Dhan accounts following demonetisation in November 2016 as it thinks they are suspicious transactions, Business Standard reported on Wednesday.
Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia told the newspaper that the Central Board of Direct Taxes received 30 one-time reports from 187 branches of various banks. “Prime facie, these deposits cannot be said to be illicit,” he added. “The information has been received by the CBDT for necessary investigations and consequential actions.”
Investigators are now matching the deposits in accounts opened under the scheme with the depositors’ profiles. “In cases where the deposits do not match the profile, necessary investigations are done, the response of the depositor is taken and assessment is finalised on the basis of the evidence gathered,” the finance secretary added.
The deposits can be termed illicit only after courts validate the findings of investigators, Adhia said, adding that these bank accounts cannot be frozen without following the due process.
The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana was was launched in August 2014 in order to increase banking penetration. Customers opening bank accounts under this scheme are not required to maintain a minimum balance and there is no restriction on depositing money in such accounts.
On November 9, 2016, the day after Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes were banned, Jan Dhan accounts had Rs 45,600 crore. Within a week, the deposits rose by 41% to Rs 64,200 crore. By December 7, these accounts had Rs 74,600 crore – a 63% increase from the day demonetisation was announced.
However, depositors started withdrawing money from their accounts from the first week of December 2016. The deposits fell to around Rs 63,000 crore by the end of March 2017 before picking up again a month later.
The Reserve Bank of India had placed a limit of Rs 10,000 on monthly withdrawals from Jan-Dhan bank accounts on November 29, 2016, “with a view to protect the innocent farmers and rural account holder of the PMJDY from activity of money launderers”.