The new Cheque books are to be used from January 2013. This is according to the new CTS (Cheque Truncation system) which were passed in 2010. So, the old Cheque books would not work. The old Cheque books is guest for us would barely work till March 2013. So from April 2013, only new ones will work.
I had my account opened 2 to 3 months back in SBI and I got the new Cheque book. SBI is sending the new Cheque books to all the existing members. But for the members of the other banks, you need to apply.
The new cheques have come with various advantages. The new rules have made all the cheques multicity which means that the Cheque can be issued in any city. Previously the Cheque used to be scanned and converted to the digital image to be sent to the respective bank branches, which took 3 days time, but the multicity Cheque is issued the same day. Thus, the Cheque gets cleared on the same day. Thus, the fraud and the missing cases will be lessened. All the systems got more precise so, the Cheque needs to filled more properly.
To get the complete information : new bank cheque circular.