The Bombay High Court on Wednesday granted time to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to consider suggestions of an expert committee appointed by Delhi High Court for making currency notes and coins friendly for the visually challenged including using plastic as it may support tactile marking.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Arif Doctor was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the National Association of the Blind (NAB) claiming that the new currency notes and coins posed difficulty for the visually impaired to identify and distinguish them.
During the hearing, senior advocate Venkatesh Dhond, appearing for the RBI, informed the bench that they have received the report of the expert committee and require some time to consider the suggestions.
Report suggests using plastic
The report highlighted that the size and width of currency which is available at present is almost identical. Further it said that the tactile features are not as effective as they do not last for a long time. The report suggested using plastic as it may support tactile marking.
With regard to the suggestion on the same size of the currency notes, Dhond said that it would be difficult to implement.
Senior advocate Uday Warunjikar, appearing for NAB, said the RBI needs to file an affidavit detailing the suggestions being accepted by them. He opposed further adjournments in the matter.
To this, the bench said that it was a delicate task. “It is a delicate task. We understand you are saying that the currency has to be visually user friendly. But they have a task before them,” said Justice Jamdar.
The bench noted in its order RBI’s contention that changing the size of currency notes is not easy. “There are various difficulties. There are over 16,000 currency notes in circulation,” noted the HC.
The counsel for the Mint Corporation submitted that the new series of coins are visually impaired friendly. Their shape and diameter is given. ₹1 is 20 mm, ₹2 is 23 mm, ₹5 is 25 mm, ₹10 is 27 mm and ₹20 is different in shape. However, there is not much difference in its weight and size. It said that they have sought to overcome this by providing serrated borders to alternate coins.
Warunjikar argued that it would not be feasible for the long term since the serration gets aberrated. However, the bench noted that there is no data on how much percentage of coins get aberrated.
Matter held for hearing on July 19
The HC has asked Mint Corporation to file an additional affidavit and kept the matter for hearing on July 19.
The plea, filed in 2016, had also sought that the authorities be directed to place on record the steps undertaken for protecting the rights of blind persons to have access to information about currency notes and coins. It further sought that coins be made disabled friendly as prescribed under the Indian Coinage Act 1906. It prayed that the RBI be directed to introduce visually impaired-friendly notes and coins.