Note press capacity: Info AG didn’t give SC openly available

New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that giving information on the capacity of the banknote printing press was not be possible, as this was a “security issue.”

It’s not clear why the top government lawyer told the apex court this, because the website of the Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran Pvt Ltd (BRBNMPL) gives this information openly to the public.

The BRBNMPL, a fully-owned subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of India, has two printing presses for banknotes, one in Salboni in West Bengal and the other one in Mysuru, Karnataka. According to the website the annual capacity of these two presses is 16 billion notes in two shifts.

There are in all four presses in the country which print currency notes. The other two, one each in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh and Nashik in Maharashtra. These two belong to the central government under the Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd.

The capacity of the central government owned press is 40 per cent of the total annual capacity in the country, according to details given in the latest annual report of the Ministry of Finance. Which means the total yearly capacity of the currency printing press in India is 26.66 billion notes.

The matter came up before the Supreme Court on Tuesday following government’s decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. The prime minister had announced the decision on November 8 in a televised address to the nation.

The apex court has asked the government to find means of easing the hardship on common man after huge queues were seen in front of banks for several days, with many unable to withdraw money. The Supreme Court bench told the Attorney General: “The government claims that it is a surgical strike against black money…but the petititoners say it’s carpet-bombing of citizens.”