Plea in HC: new currency notes, coins problematic for visually impaired

The Delhi High Court on Friday observed that visually impaired persons were facing difficulty in using the newly introduced currency notes and coins, and issued notices to the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India in this regard.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar termed the matter "very grave public interest" that should be addressed seriously.

"A number of visually impaired people in the country were facing problems with these new notes. In our interaction with such people, they told us that they are facing huge difficulty due to the change of size of notes also," the bench said.

The court was hearing a plea filed by the non-government organisation All India Confederation of Blind. The petition had said that visually impaired people were facing difficulties in identifying, using and making transactions with the new Rs2,000, Rs500, Rs200 and Rs50 denomination notes.

The court sought the reply of the government and the RBI to the plea, which sought the replacing the new currency notes with easily identifiable ones for the visually impaired.

The petitioner also asked the government to replace Rs10, Rs 5, Rs 2 and Rs 1 coins as they were of a similar structure. Vision-impaired people have to rely on others to conduct their daily financial transactions, the plea said.

Appearing for the Centre, its counsel Sanjay Narula said that the plea could be treated as a representation and should be disposed of. However, the bench asked the respondents to look into the issue and stated that the plea cannot be disposed of at this point.

The plea alleged that the new notes were issued without complying with the accessibility standards for persons with disabilities and even the tactile marks on some notes were hardly identifiable as these would disappear with frequent use.

It asked the court to direct the authorities to replace the notes with bills that can be easily identified, in a phased and time-bound manner. The high court will hear the matter next on 6 December.