Mayur Shetty & Nauzer K Bharucha,TNN | Mar 10, 2014
READ MORE Small Coins in India|reserve bank of india|Acceptance of 50 Paise Coins|50 Paise Coins
Although the government has slowed down fresh minting of the coin for some years, a central bank official said that 50 paise coins continue to be legal tender.
MUMBAI: The humble 50 paise coin is still legal tender, but could be close to extinction given that people refuse to accept it.
From shopkeepers to traders, laundrymen, rickshaw drivers, bus commuters and provision store owners, the smallest denomination of the Indian currency is simply not acceptable any more. Although it is illegal to decline a coin still in circulation, the public seem to have made up it mind. The raging inflation has made it virtually worthless.
In 2011, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) phased out the 25 paise coin, more popularly known as "chaar anna".
A raddiwallah in Bandra's Pali Market, in fact, offered to pay Rs 30 for a kilo of 50 paise coins. "Otherwise, it has no value," he said. A spokesperson for the Mumbai bus transport undertaking, BEST, said its conductors accept 50 paise coins since they cannot refuse a legal tender. But passengers decline to take them.
"If we give them two 50 paise coins, which we collect from commuters themselves, they not only reject, but also argue with us. It becomes difficult to convince them that they are still in use," a conductor from Backbay depot, who did not wish to be identified, said.
The coin's history could be traced back almost five centuries to the time of the Mughal emperor Akbar. "It has been a medium of exchange from those days," said Malcolm Todywalla of the numismatic firm Todywalla Auctions. "The 50 paise was half the weight of the 'Rupiya'. The Rupiya then contained 11 gms of silver," he said.
He said it is expensive to manufacture smaller denomination coins now. "Besides, the usage is not much anymore," he added. Although the government has slowed down fresh minting of the coin for some years, a central bank official said that 50 paise coins continue to be legal tender. RBI offices continue to accept coins for exchange into bank notes.
Before any coin is withdrawn from circulation the government issues a notification under sub-section 15A of the Coinage Act, 1906 announcing the date from which the coin would cease to be legal tender. In the case of the 25 paise coin which was withdrawn from June 2011, the government had issued a notification in December 2010.
Bankers say that coins usually go out of circulation when the intrinsic value of the coin exceeds the face value. When coins are minted the intrinsic value, that is the value of metal in the coin, is much lower than the face value. But this changes over a period of time. In the US for example the intrinsic value of the 2007 dollar is only 55 cents. However, the cent minted in 1982 has copper worth two cents.