New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Wednesday asked the government and the RBI to examine the new ₹ 200 notes, ₹ 50 notes and coins, observing that the visually impaired were facing hardship in identifying and using them.
A bench of acting chief justice Gita Mittal and justice C.Hari Shankar told the government and the RBI to reconsider the issue and if possible examine the new ₹ 200 note and ₹ 50 note as the visually-impaired were finding it difficult to use them due to their size and identification marks.
"This is something which has been overlooked. Even we have seen it and found that it is difficult for the visually impaired persons to identify due to the change of size of notes also," the Delhi HC observed.
The bench said the authorities should have consulted some visually impaired experts and others who have worked in this field, adding that the matter was of "very grave public interest" and should be addressed seriously.
The bench also asked additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain, who was representing the government, why cannot the government make the size of the currency like earlier.
The court asked the Centre to place its view before the bench on the next date of hearing on 31 January. It, however, made it clear that designing of the currency notes was a policy decision and it does not want to interfere in it. “The issue is of public importance and relates to the rights of the visually impaired persons. It needs attention of the RBI and the Central government," it added. The bench had earlier refused to stay the printing and circulation of the new ₹ 50 note, issued on 18 August.
The court was hearing PILs filed by three advocates, a company secretary and All India Confederation of Blind, a non-governmental organization, which had sought a change in the new currency notes to make them easily identifiable and differentiable for the visually impaired.
The PIL by advocate Rohit Dandriyal sought directions to the authorities to withdraw the ₹ 50 notes which do not have any identification marks and stop printing them. He said that according to the RBI, a special feature has been introduced on the left of the watermark window on all notes, except the ₹ 10 currency.
"This feature is in different shapes for various denominations. For example, a vertical rectangle denotes a ₹ 20 note, a square means ₹ 50 (in older notes), triangle and circle for ₹ 100, a diamond denoted the ₹ 1,000 currency which is not a legal tender now," the advocate's PIL said.
The petition by the NGO said visually impaired people were facing hardship in identification, usage and transaction of the new currency notes of ₹ 2000, ₹ 500, ₹ 200 and ₹ 50 notes. The NGO also sought replacement of coins of ₹ 10, ₹ 5, ₹ 2 and Re 1 saying these were of a similar structure.