Defacing Currency Note

Beware! Writing on currency note is punishable offense

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Some days back one of my acquaintances forwarded me a news clip of a reputed national newspaper reporting stamping of separatist slogans on Indian currency notes by an unknown Kashmiri separatist group. The report revealed that the group has stamped currency worth Rs 30 crores in the last four months.  For a moment I wondered why the clip was forwarded to me. But a highlighted portion in the report surprised me. The local correspondent of the newspaper had attributed some comment to me about the incident, which I had never stated.
For a moment this unethical act of the newspaper annoyed me, but I brushed it aside for the sake of sensitivity of the issue vis-à-vis general public.
It’s a common practice that people usually write on the watermark window of currency notes. Almost all of us may have come in possession of a currency note used by people for everything – from confessing their love to giving out their congratulatory messages.
It’s not general public alone, even a cashier in a bank most of the times too writes the total number of notes on the watermark window of the currency note when deposited by customers.  This he does is to keep a track on the number of notes since there is no other provision. Normally, this practice would have not been observed by bankers, who otherwise have to guard against defacing of the currency notes.
In this backdrop, I thought to share some legal implications of the issue. What’s the implication if a currency note is stamped like the way the separatist group had done? Or is writing on the watermark window of currency notes by public a banned activity? 
To put the things straight, let me caution you that writing or stamping of currency notes of any denominations is a punishable offence as per the Reserve Bank of India's clean note policy.  In November 2001, the apex bank had stated that writing on the watermark window of bank notes is punishable under Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act 1949.
Despite these directions, the practice of writing/scribbling on the body of the banknotes continues to remain in vogue. In fact, this practice has become the most widely committed offence across all sections of the society. Many continue to write and disfigure the currency notes because of lack of awareness about its legal implications. I haven’t come across any such incident where a violator was booked under law and punished.
Inscription or scribbling on any part of the banknote renders it unfit for reissue and cannot be recirculated. Government incurs huge loss as lakhs of such currency notes, mostly the denomination of 10s and 50s, are discarded.
So, awareness among people about the clean note policy should be prioritized, instead of acting as a mute spectator at the fence. This alone can bring a change in the attitude and minds of people. If the authorities are serious to stop practice of writing on the banknotes, a time frame should be given to those who possess these notes to deposit them at banks against original value. After the given time frame is over, declare the notes with inscription or scribbling as invalid. Let the bearer of the note lose its value. Of course it will create panic, but it will definitely lead to clean note in the hands of people.
At the moment, these kinds of currency notes are not invalid.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 6 Sep 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 6 Sep 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Sep 2013 00:00:00 IST

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