Members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance on Wednesday criticised Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel for his inability to answer queries related to demonetisation.
"Patel was unable to tell us how much money has come back to the banks," said Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy, a member of the panel.
"The governor was unable to tell us that how much old currency has come into the banks," added Saugata Roy.
Congress members of the committee asked questions like whose decision was it to withdraw high currency notes+ and also about autonomy of the RBI, sources said.
The BJP members of the panel, headed by Congress leader Veerappa Moily, however, chose not to raise much questions during the meeting, they added.
Patel could not give a definite number of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 bills returned post demonetisation as RBI was still tabulating those.
"He (Patel) replied in part but he could not answer main questions. How much money has come back into the system and by when banks' operations will be normal. It seems RBI officials were in very defensive position on demonetisation," a senior opposition member said after the meeting.
Sources said the Governor was spared a tough grilling at the meeting of the Parliament's Standing Committee on Finance as senior MPs including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervened to say RBI as an institution needs to be respected.
Congress MPs like Digvijaya Singh wanted Patel to be specific in his replies on lifting of cash withdrawal restrictions and wanted to follow through with tougher questions but were prevented by Manmohan Singh and others, they said.
The Reserve Bank of India has injected Rs 9.2 lakh cr ($135.21 billion) worth of new currency notes into the banking system to help replace the notes banned in November, a parliamentary source quoted central bank governor Urjit Patel as saying on Wednesday.
Patel met a parliamentary panel on finance on Wednesday to answer questions about the country's recent move to abolish 500 and 1,000 rupees notes, or 86% of the currency then in circulation, in a bid to unearth billions of dollars of unaccounted money.
About Rs 15.4 lakh crore worth 500 and 1,000 rupees notes were removed from circulation after the Nov. 8 announcement from the government.
Sources said Patel told the Parliament standing committee on finance over the demonetisation issue that discussions between the central bank and the government were taking place since early last year.
The crucial meeting was held to discuss the "demonetisation of Indian currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 and the impact thereof".
Patel is also scheduled to appear before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament on the same issue on January 20.
Besides, representatives of the Finance Ministry, including from the Department of Economic Affairs, Financial Services and Revenue, briefed the Standing Committee on Finance headed by former Union Minister and senior Congress leader M. Veerappa Moily.
Representatives of Indian Banks Association (IBA), State Bank of India (SBI), Punjab National Bank (PNB) and Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) were also present in the meeting.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the demonetisation of old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes on November 8 last year.
The government said the move was aimed at rooting out black money and corruption, but met with stiff resistance from opposition parties, which alleged the implementation of the programme was faulty and blamed the government for close to 100 deaths reported after the shock announcement.
On Wednesday, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the RBI’s autonomy had taken a hit in the wake of the move and asked for Patel’s resignation.