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FAQs on withdrawal of Legal Tender Character of the existing Bank Notes in the denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1000

Government of India vide their Notification no. 2652 dated November 8, 2016 has withdrawn the Legal Tender status of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations of banknotes of the Mahatma Gandhi Series issued by the Reserve Bank of India till November 8, 2016.

Why was this scheme introduced?

The incidence of fake Indian currency notes in higher denomination has increased. For ordinary persons, the fake notes look similar to genuine notes, even though no security feature has been copied. The fake notes are used for anti-national and illegal activities. High denomination notes have been misused by terrorists and for hoarding black money. India remains a cash based economy hence the circulation of Fake Indian Currency Notes continues to be a menace. In order to contain the rising incidence of fake notes and black money, the scheme to withdraw has been introduced.

What is this scheme?

The legal tender character of the existing bank notes in denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 issued by the Reserve bank of India till November 8, 2016 (hereinafter referred to as Specified Bank Notes) stands withdrawn. In consequence thereof these Bank Notes cannot be used for transacting business and/or store of value for future usage. The Specified Bank Notes (SBNs) were allowed to be exchanged for value at RBI Offices till December 30, 2016 and till November 25, 2016 at bank branches/Post Offices and deposited at any of the bank branches of commercial banks/Regional Rural Banks/Co-operative banks (only Urban Co-operative Banks and State Co-operative Banks) or at any Head Post Office or Sub-Post Office during the period from November 10, 2016 to December 30, 2016. The facility for exchange / deposit of SBNs stands closed with effect from December 31, 2016.

What is the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Act 2017?

On February 27, 2017 Government of India notified the Specified Banknotes (Cessation of liabilities) Act 2017. The Act repealed the Specified Banknotes (Cessation of liabilities) Ordinance 2016 providing for cessation of liabilities for the Specified Banknotes (SBNs) and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto, with effect from December 31, 2016. The SBNs cease to be the liabilities of the Reserve Bank under Section 34 of the RBI Act and cease to have the guarantee of the Central Government.

A grace period has been provided during which the Specified Bank Notes can be deposited at five RBI Offices (Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, and Nagpur) in accordance with this Ordinance by Indian citizens who make a declaration that they were outside India between November 9 and December 30, 2016, subject to conditions or any class of persons for reasons that may be specified by notification by the Central Government.

The Reserve Bank, if satisfied after making the necessary verifications, that the reasons for failure to deposit the notes till December 30, 2016 are genuine, will credit the value of notes in the KYC (Know Your Customer) compliant bank account of the tenderer. The grace period for resident Indians expired on March 31, 2017. For non- resident Indians (Indian passport holders), the grace period is till June 30, 2017.

In terms of Section 6 of the Act, whoever knowingly or wilfully makes any false declaration shall be punishable with a fine which may extend to 50,000 INR or five times the amount of the face value of the SBNs tendered whichever is higher. Any person aggrieved by the refusal of the Reserve Bank to credit the value of notes as mentioned above may make a representation to the Central Board of the Reserve Bank within 14 days of the communication of such refusal to him/her.

In terms of Section 5 of the Act, from December 31, 2016 no person shall knowingly or voluntarily hold, transfer or receive any specified banknotes. After the expiry of grace period, holding of not more than 10 notes in total, irrespective of denomination or not more than 25 notes for the purpose of study/ research/ numismatics is permitted. Also, nothing contained in this section shall prohibit the holding of specified banknotes by any person on the direction of a court in relation to any case pending in the court.

In terms of Section 7, contravention of Section 5 shall be punishable with fine which may extend upto 10,000 INR or five times the face value of the SBNs involved in the contravention, whichever is higher.

In case the contravention/default in terms of Sections 6 and 7 is by a company, every person who was in charge of and responsible to the company at the time of contravention/ default shall deemed to be guilty and will be liable to be proceeded against and punished. If the offence is proved to be attributable to the conduct by any director/manager/secretary/officer/employee of the company, such person shall also be deemed to be guilty of the offence and will be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

How can NRIs and the Indian citizens who were abroad exchange the SBNs?

In terms of the Specified Banknotes (Cessation of liabilities) Act 2017, a facility for exchange of SBNs is made available for the resident and non-resident Indian citizens (Indian passport required) who could not avail the facility from November 10 to December 30, 2016 on account of their absence from India during the aforementioned period. The facility was open for residents from January 2, 2017 to March 31, 2017 and for NRIs it will be till June 30, 2017 at five Reserve Bank offices at Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, and Nagpur.

The facility can be availed only in individual capacity and only on one occasion during the period. No third party tender is permissible under the facility. This facility will not be available for Indian citizens resident in Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Is the facility for exchange of SBNs by NRIs available outside India?

No. For NRIs the facility is available from January 2, 2017 to June 30, 2017 at five Reserve Bank offices at Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, and Nagpur. The limit of exchange for NRIs will be Rs 25,000.

What are the cash withdrawal limits for accounts?

The limits imposed on cash withdrawals from accounts/bank branches/ ATMs in the wake of demonetisation stand completely withdrawn and status quo ante has been restored.

Source : RBI

Related links

  1. Withdrawal of Legal Tender Status for Rs 500 and Rs 1000 Notes - Related Links


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