The Bombay High Court has directed the Reserve Bank of India to file an affidavit laying out reasons for changing the size and features of notes and coins from time to time.
A division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice NM Jamdar was hearing a PIL filed by National Association for the Blind (NAB) seeking directions to the RBI to include distinctive features in the new currency notes and coins for the visually impaired and blind.
CJ Nandrajog enquired from RBI's counsel Dhaval Patil about the compulsion to change the features and sizes of notes from time to time –
"You keep saying fake currency. Where is fake currency? Demonetization showed us that this whole 'Pakistan took away Rs,10,000 cr' was a myth.What is the reason for changing features on the notes? What is the compulsion for changing the size?"
Referring to special tactile features on the current notes, CJ Nandrajog remarked-
"The Dollar continues to be the same, yet you keep redesigning. At least the size should remain the same."
In a previous hearing, Senior Counsel Shyam Mehta appeared on behalf of the central bank and advocate Uday Warunjikar appeared on behalf of the petitioner.
Warunjikar had submitted that the new currency notes and several new coins introduced by the RBI were not user-friendly for the visually-impaired and blind. In the earlier notes and coins, there were marks, even the size of currency notes and coins used to differ with the denomination. This is not applicable to the new notes and coins, Warunjikar argued.
Mehta had informed the bench then that RBI had constituted a four-member expert committee in February to develop a mobile application in order to help the visually impaired and blind to identify these notes.
Out of the new currency notes which are in circulation, denominations of Rs. 100 and above already have "tactile markers and embossments" to help the visually challenged identify the denominations of these notes. But these markers and embossments often fade with usage, therefore, the new software would be of significant help for the visually impaired, Mehta had submitted.
Court has now asked RBI to file its reply within two weeks and listed the matter for hearing three weeks later.