The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has advised the public to start exchanging pre-2005 notes at banks, saying the volume of such notes that are being withdrawn from circulation is 'not significant.'
As per RBI data, 7,351 crore pieces of currency notes were in circulation on March 31, 2013. Of this, 14.6 per cent were Rs 500 notes and 5.9 per cent were Rs 1,000 notes.
"Members of public may initiate the process of exchanging notes at bank branches at their convenience," the RBI said in a statement.
The removal of older currency notes from circulation is a standard international practice, the RBI said.
The central bank is already withdrawing pre-2005 bank notes in a routine manner through banks as they have fewer security features than those printed subsequently.
In the Reserve Bank's view, the volume of bank notes printed before 2005 that are still in circulation is not significant enough to affect the public in a large way.
"The notes printed prior to 2005 will continue to be legal tender," it said, adding that even after July 1, any number of these old series notes can be exchanged by people at bank branches where they have accounts.
The RBI said it would continue to monitor and review the withdrawal of old notes so that the public is not inconvenienced.
The central bank announced the withdrawal of pre-2005 bank notes from the public in a January 22 statement.
Yesterday, Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan said the order was not an attempt at demonetisation, nor had it anything to do with the forthcoming general elections.
"I have to say that it (withdrawal of notes) has nothing to do with elections which certainly is not the objective," Rajan had said.
He said that these notes had, unfortunately, become less secure. The notes printed after 2005 have greater security features and the Finance Ministry had sought withdrawal of the pre-2005 notes.
The central bank had earlier discontinued printing of five-rupee notes but reintroduced the denomination to meet demand.
Earlier, the RBI had withdrawn a certain series of currency notes at the bank level but bearers were not asked to get them replaced.