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
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
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
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replied: "The 1940 ordinance may not be repealed as yet as one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
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