Around 50,000 demat accounts were closed last month as the October 1 deadline for submitting permanent account numbers (PAN) for holding such accounts nears.
National Securities Depository Ltd (NSDL) has seen the closure of over 25,000 accounts since mid-August, the first time there has been a net decline in the number of account-holders in a month.
Another 20,000-25,000 accounts are estimated to have closed at Central Depository Services Ltd (CDSL) this month. CDSL officials, however, said new accounts had outnumbered closures.
Industry sources said the closure of accounts would intensify over the next few days.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) had directed depository participants to freeze all demat accounts from October 1 if the account-holders failed to provide their PAN details.
The chief of a brokerage, which is also a depository participant, said accounts held by investors together with their wife or mother or children as joint accounts were the ones that were being closed the most. This is because all the beneficiaries of joint demat accounts are required to provide their PAN details for stock market trading from next month.
Investors feel it is better to close such joint accounts held with their wives or mothers who do not have a fixed source of income rather than going through the hassle of getting a PAN card, he said.
These investors have been transferring the holdings in joint accounts to their individual accounts through off-market deals.
NSDL executives said the closure of some accounts was good as it cleaned up the system. We see this in a positive light. Several accounts, which are lying idle, will get closed, an official said.
A CDSL executive said it was difficult to know if the closures were due to the PAN requirement or some other reason.
Demat account closure instructions are given at the depository participant level (such as banks, stockbroking firms, financial institutions and custodians), where retail investors open demat accounts for dematerialised holdings and their transfers.