The opposition’s allegation of two types of Rs. 500 notes printed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) provoked a huge uproar in parliament on Tuesday and also forced four adjournments in the Rajya Sabha within its first hour of proceedings. The Congress, with support from the Trinamool Congress and the Janata Dal (United), displayed images of two Rs. 500 notes in the Rajya Sabha and claimed that they were of different sizes and designs and also alleged the “biggest scam of the century”.
“Today we have discovered why the government took the demonetisation decision. The RBI prints two types of currency notes. These are of different size and different design... how is it possible?” questioned Congress leader Kapil Sibal, waving a placard with the two notes.
“We never printed two kinds of notes, one for the party and one for the government - there are two kinds of Rs. 500 notes and two kinds of Rs. 2,000 notes,” another senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged.
Slogan-shouting Congress members trooped into the well even as Leader of the House and finance minister Arun Jaitley said the opposition party has been raising “frivolous” issues without giving notices to stall Zero Hour proceedings.
JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav, who has been reportedly uneasy since his party aligned with the BJP to form a government in Bihar, sided with the opposition and showed enlarged copies of differently sized 500 rupee notes.
“I can give signed copies” of the notes, he said as treasury benches countered his contention which was earlier raised by Kapil Sibal of the Congress. Yadav said no country in the world has different sized currency notes. “One is big, one is small,” he said.
Other members, including Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien also displayed the new 500 rupee notes issued after demonetisation to show the different sizes. He first offered to submit the notes to Jaitley for scrutiny and then walked up to him to explain to him the difference.
Countering the allegation, Jaitley said there is no provision in the rules that anyone could “flash any paper and say it is point of order”. “There is a misuse of zero hour which is going on,” said Jaitley.
Raising the issue through a point of order, Sibal said different sizes of the new high denomination currency was being printed -- “one for the ruling party (members) and one for the others”.
“We have today discovered the reason why the government did demonetisation (of old 500 and 1000 rupee notes in November last year),” he said. Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad (Cong) said “this is the biggest scam of this century.”
As law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi countered, Azad said two types of notes are being printed.
“The government has no right to remain in office for even five minutes,” he said.
Deputy chairman PJ Kurien said even if there are two types of notes, it cannot be a point of order. “You raise the issue in a different form.” He said the issue cannot be taken up through a point of order and the members have to give separate notice.