The Bombay High Court has asked the RBI to file within six weeks its response to a PIL highlighting difficulty faced by blind persons in identifying currency notes and coins in recent years. A division bench headed by Chief Justice Manjula Chellur, hearing a petition filed by National Association for the Blind (NAB) on Monday, asked the central bank to submit its response and also allowed the petitioner to file a rejoinder within two weeks of RBI filing its reply.
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Joaquim Rapose, secretary of NAB, filed the PIL through lawyer Uday Warunjikar seeking directions to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to include special features in coins and currency notes so the blind could identify them easily. In his petition, Rapose said blind persons have started facing difficulties in identifying notes and coins of various denominations in the recent years. “Earlier, blind or people with poor vision were easily able to identify coins and notes as there were unique marks on each coin. Some coins were raised/embossed and tactile differentiation was available for recognition of the coins,” the petition said.
Rapose said the coins of various denominations and notes of Rs 100 have no distinct identification marks, which can help blind persons in differentiating between them. The petitioner also said the RBI had sent a written request to NAB asking it to give a feedback on the designs of new coins and currency notes. In response to the request, Rapose said he has sent suggestions regarding the shape of the coins and notes, including those relating to their breadth, thickness and colour combination.
Similarly, in case of coins, the petitioner said he had pointed out that the coins of Rs 2, Re 1 and 50 paise hardly differed from each other. “Coins should have proper borders, different designs, shapes and texture for avoiding confusion,” Rapose said.
He claimed despite the suggestions made to RBI last year, nothing has been done yet to protect the rights of the blind and people with poor vision. Rapose also stated that due to the new coins and notes, NAB, which teaches blind and low vision people to identify the currency notes and coins, was facing difficulties.
The petitioner sought directions to the respondents – RBI and Mint Corporation – to inform what steps they had taken to protect the rights of blind persons. The bench opined that RBI was an expert body on such matters and it should inform what decision it would take on the issue.