RS MP questions removal of reply to his query on demonetized deposits

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New Delhi : Samajwadi Party MP Neeraj Shekhar on Monday expressed surprise over the "removal" of a reply to his question on the deposit of a sum of Rs 745 crore in an Ahmedabad District Cooperative (ADC) Bank from the Rajya Sabha website.

"I came to know of it only yesterday. I don't know why the reply was removed from the Rajya Sabha website and at whose behest. But what everybody knows is that who was coming under the lens in that question. The public knows everything and it can't be fooled. I have asked the Rajya Sabha Secretariat to restore the reply and they have said they would do it," Shekhar said when asked about the issue.

The reply to the unstarred question posed by Shekhar on July 24 pertained to the demonetized currency deposited in the ADC Bank. Normally replies to the questions are uploaded on the Rajya Sabha website on the same day as they are tabled. However, the reply to this question - 'unstarred' question number 668 - was not uploaded till Monday.

Shekhar said that he came to know of the matter on Sunday and inquired about it with the Question Branch of the Rajya Sabha.

BJP President Amit Shah is one of the Directors of the ADC Bank that received the highest amount of demonetized currency among the cooperative banks - Rs 745.5 crore - in the five days after demonetization in November 8, 2016.

Shekhar had asked how much amount of the banned currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes was deposited or exchanged at the ADC bank in the five days post demonetization announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and if the authorities launched any probe into the alleged "huge deposits".

"The ‘unstarred' questions are meant for public consumption as the MPs cannot ask any supplementary questions on that. Though I have already got the reply from the government, but they (officials) did not give any satisfactory answer as to who asked it to be removed from the website. The Question Branch said the replies are uploaded by the respective ministries and they would ask the ministry to upload it," he added.

He said he will "write a letter" and seek explanation from the authorities concerned.

Shekhar said the "removal" of the reply showed that the government was allegedly trying to avoid making some information public.

However, the officials at the Rajya Sabha Question Branch said it were the respective ministries that upload the questions/replies and the delay in uploading sometimes happen due to "technical reasons".

"These days a new system is being adopted where a person can upload the replies through a link. But to open that link, one needs an OTP (one-time password). Sometimes the OTP may be delayed or there could be other technical glitches," said the official who did not wish to be named.

In the reply to Shekhar's question, the Finance Ministry disclosed that the ADC Bank got notes worth Rs 745.5 crore in five days after demonetization.

"The Income Tax Department (ITD) has taken suitable action as per law against persons found to be involved in making unaccounted deposits, post-demonetization, in various banks including, inter alia, cooperative banks," the reply read.

"During the period November 2016 to March 2017, the IT Department conducted searches in 900 groups, involved in various activities and business, leading to seizure of Rs 900 crore, including cash seizure of Rs 636 crore," it added.