After Delhi HC order, RBI to ease identification of banknotes for visually challenged

After Delhi HC order, RBI to ease identification of banknotes for visually challenged

Meera Emmanuel

Pursuant to recommendations made before the Delhi High Court in April this year, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has intimated that it will be exploring ways to make identification of Indian currency easier for visually challenged persons.

To this end, the RBI has undertaken to develop suitable identification devices/mechanisms following consultation with stakeholders. Furthermore, the body is also expected to issue necessary guidelines within six months.

A statement issued by the RBI dated June 6 states,

The Reserve Bank has been sensitive to the challenges faced by the visually challenged in conducting their day to day business with Indian banknotes. While different fora have been consulted from time to time before making any change in the Indian banknotes, the Reserve Bank is of the view that technological progress has opened up new vistas for making Indian banknotes more recognizable for the visually challenged, facilitating their day to day transactions.

Accordingly, it has been decided that the Reserve Bank, in consultation with various entities representing the visually challenged, will explore the feasibility of developing a suitable device or mechanism for aiding them in the identification of Indian banknotes. The Reserve Bank will issue necessary guidelines in this regard within six months.

This development follows the Delhi High Court’s decision to take up these concerns, following a PIL filed by Advocate Rohit Dandriyal in November 2017. Dandriyal had approached the Court seeking a direction to the RBI to withdraw the newly launched Rs.50 banknote, as it allegedly does not have an identification mark for the visually impaired.

Another petition, filed by the All India Confederation of the Blind, was tagged along with this matter.

While directing the Centre to re-examine the banknotes, the Court also appointed Senior Advocate SK Rungta (who is visually impaired since birth) and George Abraham for assistance in the matters. Abraham is the CEO of Score Foundation – a non-profit which works for the visually impaired.

Accordingly, the Amici Curiae submitted a list of recommendations to the Centre. The Court had asked the RBI to consider the same, before submitting a report on measures taken to address the issue. The recommendations made include:

  • The Government should be directed to provide distinguishing features in any bank note or coin which are identifiable and recognizable easily by the visually impaired persons.
  • Whenever existing bank notes and coins are withdrawn from circulation, they should be substituted by the bank notes or coins having such distinguishing features as recommended in this report.
  • The distinguishing features on the bank notes may largely be different shapes in the corner coupled with different sizes. Further, the colour of notes of different denominations should also be different. In so far as the coins are concerned, the shape of coins of different denominations should be different.
  • While issuing plastic currency/ bank notes, the Government should ensure that recommended distinguishing features are incorporated.

The Delhi High Court is due to take up the matter next on July 31.

Read Statement issued by the RBI:

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