According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data released recently, the Rs 2000 note, introduced in end 2016 post demonetization (withdrawal of old Rs 500 & 1000 notes) contributed the maximum to fake currency seized by law enforcement officials. In 2017, fake notes worth Rs 28.10 crores were seized, out of which 53.3% in value was 2000 notes. In 2018, while overall seizure reduced to Rs 19.95 crores, share of 2000 notes increased to 61.0%. Across the two years, 2000 notes accounted for 56% of total fake currency seized. Post the demonetization announcement, Rs 45.44 lakhs of fake 2000 notes was seized in the remaining 53 days of 2016 itself. RBI annual report for the last two financial years also echoes a similar scenario although the figures are different. In FY 2017-18, total 17, 929 fake 2000 notes were detected in the banking system. In FY 2018-19, this figure increased to 21, 847 notes – an increase of 21.9%.
When the Rs 2000 note was introduced, as per RBI it had several new features which made it more difficult to fake. These included see through register with denominational numeral 2000, latent image with denominational numeral 2000, denominational numeral 2000 in devanagari script, micro letters “Bharat” (in Hindi) and “India”, denominational numeral with Rupee symbol in colour changing ink (green to blue), Swachh Bharat logo with slogan, motif of Mangalyan etc. Yet as the above figures show, the counterfeiting of these notes has only increased with time. According to a response from RBI to a RTI query, no new 2000 notes have been printed in the FY19-20.
In terms of state wise trends, as of December 2018, fake 2000 notes had proliferated to 27 states and UTs. Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Sikkim, A&N Islands, Lakshwadeep Islands, Chandigarh, Puducherry, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu were the only states/UTs where no fake 2000 notes were recovered. More than 1/4th of all fake 2000 notes recovered were from the state of Gujarat – amounting to 6.93 crores. Following Gujarat were West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh with seizures of 3.5 crores, 2.8 crores and 2.6 crores respectively. Together, these 4 states accounted for 56% of the fake 2000 notes recovered.
In another worrying piece of statistic, even fake of new Rs 500 notes has also surged substantially in the year 2018. While fake 500 (new) notes accounted for only 1.57% of total seizures in 2017, in the next year the same increased to 7.21%. The RBI data also shows same trend: no. of fake 500 notes in circulation increased by a whopping 121% from FY17-18 (9892) to FY 18-19 (2,21, 218).
The NCRB and RBI data clearly shows that despite the additional security features introduced in the new notes, fake currency continues to be a major source of concern for the establishment.