Taking on Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Urjit Patel for ‘dereliction of his duty’, a Congress leader said on Thursday he failed to answer a parliamentary committee over the demonetisation move’s aftermath because he was afraid of revealing the information.
Patel couldn’t give on Wednesday a time frame for an end to cash restrictions nor could he provide a parliamentary panel a figure for the amount of banned notes deposited into banks after demonetisation, sources said.
The central bank had pumped in Rs 9.2 lakh crore in new banknotes to help replace the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bills banned on November 8, Patel told a parliamentary panel. Around Rs 15.4 lakh crore worth of the notes were removed from circulation.
“It shows the unpreparedness on the part of Reserve Bank of India. The RBI governor appeared before the parliamentary committee and this notice was given to him two weeks back. Not that he did not have the information but he is afraid of revealing it to parliamentary committee, which is dereliction of duty on the part of the RBI governor,” Congress leader PC Chacko told ANI.
Chacko said nobody can hold back any information of the parliamentary committee.
“When the question was put to the RBI governor he did not report to the committee that by what time things will be normal, by what time the currency will be made available. Various pertinent questions were put to him by the committee was not answered so it is a question of privilege that he is holding back and not revealing the facts,” he added.
“The RBI governor was unable to tell us how much old currency has come to the banks,” panel member and Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy told media on Wednesday, criticising Patel for his “inability” to answer vital questions.
Demanding Patel’s resignation, Chacko said he has lost the moral authority to continue as the RBI governor and added that the central bank behaved like the junior department of the central government.
“The chairman of central bank is always considered as a very highly independent position because the monetary control of the country is mainly done by the RBI. Such an organisation should be in a position to advice the government on matters and should not take orders from the government,” he added.
Patel and several finance ministry officials appeared before the panel to answer questions on the demonetisation decision that triggered a huge cash crunch and restrictions on money withdrawals.
Patel, who took over as the country’s top banker on September 4, had a tough time fending off MPs, prompting former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who is also on the committee, to come to his rescue, sources in the panel said.
Singh, a former RBI governor, told Patel not to answer questions that would compromise the autonomy of the central bank, sources said.
Patel failed to provide a figure for how many of the banned notes were had been deposited. The RBI was still in the process of calculating how much money came into the banking system, he said.
The figure would be an indication of the success or failure of the disruptive move, which the government said was aimed at curbing black money and choking counterfeit currency.