Bench's poser comes after RBI says it will provide mobile app to help visually-challenged identify notes
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) told the Bombay High Court on Thursday that it is coming up with a mobile application in November, which will help visually-impaired people identify currency notes and coins. However, referring to the situation in Kashmir, the court asked how it could help a visually-impaired person.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre was hearing a public interest litigation filed by the National Association for the Blind claiming that the new currency notes introduced by the RBI after demonetisation are not easy for the visually-impaired to identify or distinguish.
Senior counsel Venkatesh Dhond, appearing for the RBI, told the court that the notes had been changed only once between 1967 and 2019, and there would not be any more changes.
After the court inquired about the need to change the dimensions of the notes, Mr. Dhond said it was to make the notes “wallet-friendly” like the U.S. dollar.
The court, referring to the situation in Kashmir, said, “Technology has its own limitations. What will happen when a visually-impaired person loses his mobile phone network or is not allowed to use his phone somewhere? We have a State (Jammu & Kashmir) where mobile phones were not allowed...(post scrapping of J&K’s special status on August 5) there is no network connectivity in some parts. What will happen then.”
“We owe some obligation to the visually-impaired people to make things easy for them. We should not be making things difficult,” Chief Justice Nandrajog said.
The HC said the RBI, by now declaring it will come up with the mobile app, is giving a solution to a problem that was its own creation. “Nature has its own compensatory ways. Visually-impaired people lose their sense of vision but their other senses like smell and touch are heightened.” By changing the size and dimensions of a currency note, the Central bank is taking away the skills developed by a visually-impaired person to identify it, the court said.