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Bombay High Court asks Reserve Bank of India to submit report on steps taken for visually-impaired to distinguish currency

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Published on: 30 May 2023 at 12:15 IST

The Bombay High Court has issued a directive to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to submit a report detailing the measures taken to enable visually-impaired individuals to differentiate between various denominations of currency.

The court has expressed concern over the challenges faced by visually-impaired individuals in identifying different currency notes, which hampers their ability to handle financial transactions independently. The RBI has been asked to provide information on the steps it has implemented or plans to implement to address this issue and ensure accessibility for visually-impaired individuals.

The Bombay High Court has emphasized the importance of ensuring that currency and coins are user-friendly for visually-impaired individuals.

The court heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the National Association for the Blind (India), which sought directions for the authorities to disclose the measures taken to protect the rights of blind individuals in accessing information about currency notes and coins.

The PIL also requested action under the Indian Coinage Act of 1906 to make currency coins accessible for the visually-impaired and urged the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to introduce visually-impaired friendly currency notes and coins.

During the hearing, the Senior Advocate representing the respondents informed the court that a Committee had been established by the Delhi High Court to address this issue. However, the Committee had not yet submitted its report, which was expected by November 25, 2022.

The Bombay High Court is seeking progress on the matter and awaiting the report from the Committee appointed by the Delhi High Court.

It is noted that after the filing of the present petition, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) implemented certain measures in 2016 to make currency more visually-impaired friendly. Additionally, a series of coins designed for visually-impaired individuals was introduced. The details of these measures were provided in the affidavit filed by the Respondent. Furthermore, a mobile application was developed for visually-impaired persons, although the petitioner’s counsel raised concerns about its functionality, particularly in crowded places or while using public transportation.

The counsel for the Respondent No.1 argued that the volume on mobile phones is adjustable, and the application also includes a vibration mode. The Bench acknowledged that the RBI must take steps to enable visually-impaired individuals to differentiate between currency notes.

The Bench noted that the RBI is also a party to a similar case before the Delhi High Court. If the report from that case is received, it should be submitted to the Bombay High Court by Respondent No.1. Otherwise, the proceedings will proceed based on the allegations made in the writ petition and the filed affidavits.

The matter has been scheduled for the last chance on June 23, 2023, for the Respondents to address the concerns raised.