According to a report by Free Press Journal, it was claimed that ₹88,032.5 crore worth of ₹500 notes were missing. The report cited an RTI response stating that the mints had issued 8,810.65 million pieces of the new ₹500 note, but the RBI’s records showed that it had received only 7,260 million. This created a difference of 1,550 million notes.
The report also mentioned another RTI response that revealed the press at Nashik had issued 210 million pieces of ₹500 notes in the fiscal year 2016, but the RBI’s records did not reflect this receipt.
The author of the report added the figures of 1,550 million and 210 million, arriving at a total of 1,760 missing ₹500 notes, valued at ₹88,000 crore.
In response, the RBI stated that the media reports regarding the missing notes were incorrect and based on an erroneous interpretation of the information obtained through the RTI filing. The RBI asserted that it had properly accounted for all the notes supplied by the printing presses.
The RBI further explained that robust systems were in place for the reconciliation of banknotes printed at the presses and supplied to the RBI. These systems included protocols to monitor the production, storage, and distribution of banknotes. The RBI urged the public to rely on the information published by the RBI from time to time regarding such matters.
The explanation behind the missing ₹500 notes could be lapses in reconciliation and accounting, rather than the speculation of notes being misappropriated during transit or by political figures. Notes issued from the press do not immediately translate into money, as they need to pass through currency chests, bank ATMs, and bank branches before entering circulation. Some notes could be in transit and not yet added to the currency in circulation, while others might have been printed in one financial year but supplied in another. Therefore, it is difficult to precisely calculate the total. However, banking officials argue that there is no real shortfall or missing notes.
Former RBI officials argue that the notes requested by the RBI and agreed to be supplied by the printing press should be reconciled, leaving no room for ambiguity. The supplies from the press should not go missing during transit. The possibility of any underhand activity in this matter is considered unlikely.