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The Union government has admitted that the new Rs 50 bank notes lack features to aid the visually-impaired in identifying the currency — a move that may prompt the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to issue new set of notes with added features.
“New notes and coins usually have distinguishable identification features for the convenience of the visually-impaired,” a senior finance ministry official said, adding: “However, the new Rs 50 series bank notes do not have any such feature, except for its distinguishable size.” The RBI had introduced the new Rs 50 notes on August 18 last year.
The Centre plans to make this stance clear to the Delhi High Court on January 31, when the court is set to hear the RBI and the finance ministry’s response to a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking withdrawal of the Rs 50 notes.
In the past, the RBI has introduced an intaglio on the watermark window of all currency notes, except Rs 10 notes, which could be felt by touch and help the visually-impaired to identify the currency denomination. The old Rs 50 notes featured an intaglio square on the left side.
The Rs 2,000 and the new Rs 500 notes feature a rectangle and a circle, respectively, on the right side.
The Delhi HC had last month asked the RBI and the government to examine the new currency notes and coins. “This is something that has been overlooked. Even we have seen it and found that it was difficult for the visually-impaired to identify the denomination, also because of the change in size of the note,” a Bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal, and C Hari Shankar said. It had, however, refused to stay the printing and circulation of the new Rs 50 notes.
“It is very difficult for a visually-impaired person to identify the new note. This act of respondents violated the Constitutional right of the visually-impaired, which is confirmed by Article 14 of the Constitution,” the petition filed by three advocates, a company secretary, and the All India Confederation of Blind said.