Ordinance on near-extinct Rs.1 note survives seven decades

By Rana Ajit, IANS
Sunday, September 12, 2010

NEW DELHI - Remember the Re.1 note, or the last time you saw it?

It may well have gone out of print, but an ordinance promulgated to facilitate its birth in 1940 is still in force, despite the the fact that the Indian constitution grants no more than six months of life to an ordinance.

Notably, the currency ordinance issued by the colonial British government to print the Re.1 note is going to survive, as it did two bids on its life earlier when a finance ministry panel in 1997 and then the Law Commission in 1998 recommended its repeal on the ground that the note is no longer printed.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance stumbled upon the Currency Ordinance, 1940 recently while examining the Coinage Bill, 2009, aimed at replacing four existing laws on metal coins and tokens.

Flummoxed by its queer longevity, the committee headed by former finance minister Yashwant Sinha asked the ministry if the ordinance promulgated in 1940 was ever enacted as a law.

“No. The Currency Ordinance, 1940 was promulgated after passing of the India and Burma (Emergency provisions) Act, 1940, which provided that ordinances made during the period of the emergency beginning June 27, 1940, (imposed to meet the exigencies of World War II) would not lapse within six months,” the ministry told the lawmkaers panel.

“This made the Currency Ordinance, 1940 of permanent nature,” it said, adding that after independence, the Indian government adopted it thorough a presidential order in 1950 to adopt various British laws.

An ordinance is a special piece of legislation made by the executive to meet an emergency when parliament is not in session. But Article 123 of the constitution stipulates that the ordinance would lapse unless it is ratified and made into a full-fledged law by parliament within six months of its promulgation.

Asked by the panel as to why the ministry was not repealing it when it has already stopped printing Re.1 note, the ministry replied: “The 1940 ordinance may not be repealed as yet as one rupee notes continue to be in circulation though not being printed any more.”

The Coinage Bill, 2009, seeks to amalgamate four laws– Metal Tokens Act, 1889, Coinage Act, 1906, Bronze Coin (Legal Tender) Act, 1918, and the Small Coins (Offences) Act, 1971, into one comprehensive act.

Filed under: Economy

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