Reserve Bank of India through its Department of Currency Management issued Master circular, vide RBI/2021-22/02 DCM (FNVD) G–1/16.01.05/2021-22 dated 01st April 2021, for Detection and Impounding of Counterfeit Notes. The Master Circular is a compilation of the instructions issued by RBI on the above subject which are operational as on the date of this Circular.
What is Counterfeit Notes?
Counterfeit Note is a currency note produced without the legal sanction of the State or Government, usually in a deliberate attempt to imitate the currency and so as to deceive its recipient. Producing or using counterfeit Note is a form of fraud or forgery, and is illegal.
In short, here you can know who is empowered to detect Counterfeit Notes, how to detect, where to report the detection, reporting format and all other gist of the RBI’s master circular.
1. Authority to Impound Counterfeit Notes
The Counterfeit Notes can be impounded by
- All Banks
- All Treasuries and Sub-Treasuries
- Issue Offices of Reserve Bank of India
2. Detection of Counterfeit Notes
Banknotes tendered over the counter should be examined for authenticity through machines. Similarly, banknotes received directly at the back office / currency chest through bulk tenders should also be examined through machines.
Furthermore, No credit to customer’s account is to be given for Counterfeit Notes, if any, detected in the tender received over the counter or at the back-office / currency chest.
Above all, the Counterfeit Notes should not be returned to the tenderer or destroyed by the bank branches / treasuries. Furthermore, Failure of the banks to impound Counterfeit Notes detected at their end will be construed as wilful involvement of the bank concerned in circulating Counterfeit Notes and penalty will be imposed.
3. Impounding of Counterfeit Notes
Notes determined as counterfeit shall be stamped as “COUNTERFEIT NOTE” and impounded in the prescribed format (Annex I). Particularly, Each such impounded note shall be recorded under authentication, in a separate register.
4. Issue of Receipt to Tenderer
When a banknote tendered at the counter of a bank branch / back office and currency chest or treasury is found to be counterfeit, an acknowledgement receipt in the prescribed format (Annex II) must be issued to the tenderer, after stamping the note as in Paragraph 3 ibid. The receipt, in running serial numbers, should be authenticated by the cashier and tenderer. Further, Notice to this effect should be displayed prominently at the offices / branches for information of the public. The receipt is to be issued even in cases where the tenderer is unwilling to countersign it.
5. Detection of Counterfeit Notes – Reporting to Police and other bodies
The following procedure should be followed while reporting incidence of detection of Counterfeit Note to the Police:
For cases of detection of Counterfeit Notes up to 4 pieces, in a single transaction, a consolidated report in the prescribed format (Annex III) should be sent by the Nodal Bank Officer to the police authorities or the Nodal Police Station, along with the suspect Counterfeit Notes, at the end of the month.
For cases of detection of Counterfeit Notes of 5 or more pieces, in a single transaction, the Counterfeit Notes should be forwarded immediately by the Nodal Bank Officer to the local police authorities or the Nodal Police Station for investigation by filing FIR in the prescribed format (Annex IV).
Also, A copy of the monthly consolidated report / FIR shall be sent to the Forged Note Vigilance Cell constituted at the Head Office of the bank (only in the case of banks), and in the case of the treasury, it should be sent to the Issue Office of the Reserve Bank concerned.
Acknowledgement of the police authorities concerned has to be obtained for note/s forwarded to them both as consolidated monthly statement and for filing of FIR. If the Counterfeit Notes are sent to the police by insured post, acknowledgement of receipt thereof by the police should be invariably obtained and kept on record. A proper follow-up of receipt of acknowledgement from the police authorities is necessary. In case any difficulty is faced by the Offices / Branches due to reluctance of the police to receive monthly consolidated statement / file FIRs, the matter may be sorted out in consultation with the Nodal Officer of the police authority designated to coordinate matters relating to investigation of Counterfeit Banknotes cases. The list of Nodal Police Stations may be obtained from the Regional Office concerned of the Reserve Bank of India.
In order to facilitate identification of people abetting circulation of Counterfeit Notes, banks are advised to cover the banking hall / area and counters under CCTV surveillance and recording and preserve the recording.
Banks should also monitor the patterns / trends of such detection and suspicious trends / patterns should be brought to the notice of RBI / Police authorities immediately.
Generally, the progress made by banks in detection and reporting of Counterfeit Notes to Police, RBI, etc. and problems thereof, should be discussed regularly in the meetings of various State Level Committees viz. State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC), Standing Committee on Currency Management (SCCM), State Level Security Committee (SLSC), etc.
Finally, The data on detection of counterfeit Indian notes at bank branches and treasuries should be included in the monthly returns forwarded to the Reserve Bank Issue Offices as indicated in para 10 below.
The definition of ‘counterfeiting’ in the Indian Penal Code covers currency notes issued by a foreign government authority as well. In case of suspected foreign currency note received for opinion from the police and government agencies, etc., they should be advised to forward the case to the Interpol Wing of the CBI, New Delhi after prior consultation with them.
Earlier, The Government of India has framed Investigation of High Quality Counterfeit Indian Currency Offences Rules, 2013 under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967. The Third Schedule of the Act defines High Quality Counterfeit Indian Currency Note. Activity of production, smuggling or circulation of High Quality Counterfeit Indian Notes has been brought under the ambit of UAPA, 1967.
6. Examination of the Banknotes before Issuing over Counters, Feeding ATMs and Remitting to Issue Offices of the Reserve Bank
The banks should re-align their cash management in such a manner so as to ensure that cash receipts in the denominations of ₹100 and above are not put into re-circulation without the notes being machine processed for authenticity. The said instructions shall be applicable to all bank branches, irrespective of the volume of daily cash receipt. Any non-compliance will be construed as violation of the Directive No.3158/09.39.00 (Policy)/2009-10 dated November 19, 2009 issued by the Reserve Bank.
In order to obviate complaints regarding receipt of Counterfeit Notes through ATMs, and to curb circulation of counterfeits, it is imperative to put in place adequate safeguards / checks before loading ATMs with notes. Dispensation of Counterfeit Notes through the ATMs would be construed as an attempt to circulate the Counterfeit Notes by the bank concerned.
Detection of counterfeits in chest remittances is also liable to be construed as wilful involvement of the chest branches concerned in circulating Counterfeit Notes and may attract special investigation by police authorities, and other action like suspending the operation of the chest concerned.
Penalty at 100% of the notional value of Counterfeit Notes, in addition to the recovery of loss to the extent of the notional value of such notes, will be imposed under the following circumstances:
a) When Counterfeit Notes are detected in the soiled note remittance of the bank.
b) If Counterfeit Notes are detected in the currency chest balance of a bank during Inspection / Audit by RBI.
7. Designating Nodal Bank Officer
Each bank should designate a Nodal Bank Officer, district-wise and notify the same to the Regional Office of RBI concerned and Police Authorities. All cases of reporting of Counterfeit Note detection as indicated in Para 5 should be done through the Nodal Bank Officer. The Nodal Bank Officer will also serve as the contact point for all Counterfeit Note detection related activities.
8. Establishment of Forged Notes Vigilance Cell at Head Office of Bank
Each bank shall establish at its Head Office, a Forged Note Vigilance (FNV) Cell to undertake the following functions:
- Dissemination of instructions issued by the Reserve Bank on Counterfeit Notes to bank’s branches. Monitoring the implementation of these instructions. Compilation of data on detection of Counterfeit Notes, and its submission to Reserve Bank, FIU-IND and National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) as per extant instructions. Follow-up of cases of Counterfeit Notes, with police authorities / designated nodal officer.
- Sharing of the information thus compiled with bank’s CVO and report to him / her all cases of acceptance / issue of Counterfeit Notes over the counters.
- Conducting periodic surprise checks at currency chests where shortages / defective / Counterfeit Notes etc. are detected.
- Ensuring operation of Note Sorting Machines of appropriate capacity at all the currency chests / back offices and closely monitoring the detection of Counterfeit Notes and maintaining the record of the same. Ensuring that only properly sorted and machine examined banknotes are fed into the ATMs / issued over the counters and to put in place adequate safeguards, including surprise checks, both during the processing and in transit of notes.
FNV Cell shall submit status report on a quarterly basis covering the aforesaid aspects to the Chief General Manager, Department of Currency Management, Reserve Bank of India, Central Office, Amar Building, Fourth Floor, Sir P. M. Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001 / to (email) and to the Issue office of the Regional office of Reserve Bank under whose jurisdiction the FNV Cell is functioning, within a fortnight from the conclusion of the quarter under report. The said report should be sent by e-mail. No hard copy need be sent.
In order to update the record of the addresses of the FNV Cells, the bank shall furnish by e-mail, in the prescribed format (Annex V), the particulars to the Reserve Bank every year, as on 1st April. No hard copy need be sent.
9. Provision of Ultra-Violet Lamp and Other Infrastructure
With a view to facilitating the detection of Counterfeit Notes, all bank branches / identified back offices should be equipped with ultra-violet lamps / other appropriate banknote sorting / detection machines. In addition, all currency chest branches should be equipped with verification, processing and sorting machines and should be used to their optimum capacity. Such machines should conform to the guidelines on ‘Note Authentication and Fitness Sorting Parameters’ prescribed by the Reserve Bank.
The banks shall maintain a daily record of the notes processed through the Note Sorting machines, including the number of counterfeits detected.
The banks should also consider providing at least one counting machine (with dual display facility) for public use at the counter.
10.Reporting of Data to RBI / NCRB / FIU-IND
Data on Counterfeit Notes detected by all the branches of the bank shall be reported in the prescribed format, on a monthly basis. A statement (Annex VI) showing the details of Counterfeit Notes detected in the bank branches during the month shall be compiled and forwarded to the Issue Office of Reserve Bank concerned so as to reach them by 7th of the next month. A “nil “report may be sent in case no counterfeit note has been detected during the month.
Under Rule 8 (1) of Prevention of Money Laundering (Maintenance of Records) Amendment Rules, 2013, Principal Officers of banks are also required to report information on cash transactions where forged notes have been detected to The Director, FIU-IND, Financial Intelligence Unit- India, 6th Floor, Hotel Samrat, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi-110021, by the 15th day of the succeeding month, by uploading the information on the FINnet Portal. Similarly, data on Counterfeit Note detection is also to be uploaded on the web-enabled software of National Crime Records Bureau, New Delhi at their website.
11. Preservation of Counterfeit Notes Received from Police Authorities
All Counterfeit Notes received back from the police authorities / courts may be carefully preserved in the safe custody of the bank and a record thereof be maintained by the branch concerned. FNV Cell of the bank shall also maintain a branch-wise consolidated record of such Counterfeit Notes.
Generally, These Counterfeit Notes at branches should be subjected to verification on a half-yearly basis (on 31st March and 30th September) by the Officer-in-Charge of the bank office concerned. They should be preserved for a period of three years from the date of receipt from the police authorities.
Counterfeit Notes, which are the subject matter of litigation in the court of law should be preserved with the branch concerned for three years after conclusion of the court case.
After the preservation period, such notes may be sent to the Issue Office of Reserve Bank of India concerned with full details.
12. Detection of Counterfeit Notes – Training of Staff
Firstly, It is necessary to ensure that the cash handling staff in banks and treasuries / sub-treasuries are fully conversant with the security features of a banknote.
Accordingly, with a view to educating the branch staff on detection of Counterfeit Notes, the design and security features of all the banknotes have been supplied to all the banks / treasuries with instructions to display them prominently at the branches for information of the public. Likewise, details of security features of the New Design banknotes of ₹2000, ₹500, ₹200, ₹100, ₹50, ₹20 and ₹10 are available at the link https://www.paisaboltahai.rbi.org.in
Details of other banknotes are also available under ‘Know your Banknotes’ at the above link.
The Controlling Offices / Training Centers should also organize / conduct training programmes on the security features of banknotes for members of staff to enable detection of Counterfeit Notes at the point of receipt itself. Further, The banks should ensure that all bank personnel handling cash are trained on features of genuine Indian bank notes. Also, These trainings should cover detection, impounding and reporting of Counterfeit Notes. The Reserve Bank will also provide faculty support and training materials.
Each banknote, which, on examination of various security features / parameters, is determined as a counterfeit one, shall be branded with a stamp “COUNTERFEIT BANKNOTE”. For this purpose, a stamp with a uniform size of 5 cm x 5 cm with the following inscription may be used.
|COUNTERFEIT BANKNOTE IMPOUNDED|
BANK / TREASURY/ SUB-TREASURY
BRANCH / CURRENCY CHEST
NAME OF THE BANK
Format – Acknowledgement Receipt to be issued to the tenderer of Counterfeit Notes
Name of the Bank / Treasury/ Sub-treasury:
Serial Number of the Receipt: ________
The note (s) described below received from……………………………. (Name and Address of the tenderer) is/are counterfeit and has/have therefore been impounded and stamped accordingly.
|Serial number of the note deemed as counterfeit||Denomination||Parameters on which the note is deemed as counterfeit|
Total number of Counterfeit Notes:
(Signature of the Tenderer)
(Signature of the Counter Staff)
Name of the Bank:
Name and Address of the Nodal Bank Officer:
The Inspector of Police
Consolidated Monthly Report for the month of ________
Detail of Counterfeit Notes:
|Date of detection||Name of branch / currency chest||Details of tenderer||Denominations / pieces / serial numbers||Security features breached||Unique Reference Number (URN) generated by the NCRB Portal|
4. The Counterfeit Notes are enclosed for information and necessary action.
5. Kindly acknowledge receipt.
Name of the Bank:
Name and Address of the Nodal Bank Officer:
The Inspector of Police
Detection of Counterfeit Note/s – Request for investigation
We enclose the following Counterfeit Notes detected in our office on ________. The details of the Counterfeit Notes are furnished below.
2. As the printing and/or circulation of forged Indian Currency Notes is an offence under Sections 489A to 489E of the Indian Penal Code, we request you to lodge FIR and conduct the necessary investigation. In case it is decided to file criminal proceedings in the court of law, you may first arrange to send the notes to any of the Note Printing Presses, Forensic Science Laboratories etc. in terms of the provisions of Section 292(1) and 292(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure for examination. The expert opinion furnished may be produced in the court as evidence under Section 292 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The forged notes may please be returned to us after the completion of the investigation and/or proceedings in the court of law along with the detailed report of the investigation / decision of the court.
|Denomination / Number of pieces||Serial number of Counterfeit Note||Notional Value||Details of tenderer||Name & address of the branch /currency chest where detection took place||Bank’s Entry No.||Unique Reference Number (URN) generated in the NCRB Portal|
3. The Counterfeit Notes are enclosed.
4. Please acknowledge receipt.
FORMAT FOR FURNISHING ADDRESS ETC. PARTICULARS OF FORGED NOTE VIGILANCE CELL (FNVC) TO RBI
(TO BE FURNISHED BY E-MAIL ON 1ST APRIL EVERY YEAR)
|NAME OF THE BANK||ADDRESS OF FNVC (WITH PIN CODE)||NAME AND DESIGNATION OF OFFICER-IN-CHARGE||TELEPHONE NO (WITH CODE).||FAX NO.|
|E-mail Address of the FNVC|
We note to intimate immediately the changes, if any, in the particulars furnished above
Name of Authorised Official:
NB: The completed format, in MS-Excel, should be transmitted by e-mail
(No hard copy need be sent)