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Business News/ Money / Calculators/  If banks refuse to exchange soiled notes, they can be fined Rs10,000

In a world of fake news and viral WhatsApp messages, you may end up believing the rumour that currency notes that have something scribbled across them are no longer legal tender. Your heart may sink if an ATM spits out yet another note with “Sonam Gupta bewafa hai" (Sonam Gupta is unfaithful) written on it.

Don’t believe such rumours. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has clarified that currency notes with scribbles are legal tender. “There is no RBI instruction to anyone not to accept any currency note with scribbling on it even though we do, from time to time, keep appealing to people not to write/staple/fold currency notes as these things lessen the life of currency notes," the central bank said in an email to Mint.

While scribbled-on notes continue to be legal tender, there are exceptions. According to a July 2013 RBI notification, any note with slogans and messages of a political nature cease to be legal tender. So, refrain from pouring your heart out on currency notes.

In 2014 too, the RBI had issued circular asking people not to heed rumours and to go on using the scribbled notes.

Banks including State Bank of India, Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd, HDFC Bank Ltd and Axis Bank Ltd did not respond to a query on whether they are accepting notes with handwriting on them.

RBI had introduced the clean note policy in 1999, periodically urges people to not write on the notes. Banks are instructed to provide facilities for exchange of soiled and mutilated notes.

In 2002, the RBI has also issued a circular asking banks to do away with stapling of note bundles and to introduce banding, so that the life of currency notes is increased.

In July 2016, the central bank again stated in a master circular that in keeping with the objectives of its clean note policy, it had formulated a scheme of penalties for bank branches, including currency chests, to ensure that all bank branches provide better customer service to the public for exchange of notes and coins.

According to the RBI circular, if any bank branch refuses to exchange soiled notes from any member of the public, the bank has to pay a penalty of Rs10,000.

But there are some restrictions. According to a July 2016 RBI circular, if you exchange more than 20 notes, or notes worth Rs5,000 per day, banks may levy a service charge.

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Updated: 02 Mar 2017, 04:58 PM IST
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