Volume 4 Issue 10 - May 15, 2006

H.C. orders I.D.B.I. bank to allow visually impaired person to open account

D.N.I.S. News Network – In a positive development, Justice Ranjan Gogoi of Guwahati High Court has passed an interim order directing the Industrial Development Bank of India Ltd. (I.D.B.I.) to allow Pincha, a visually impaired person, to open a savings bank account with cheque book facility “as in the case of persons with no visual impairment or any other disability”.

Prasanna Kumar Pincha, a visually impaired person and Northeast Regional Manager of Action Aid India, had moved the Guwahati High Court asking if banks can place restrictions on blind customers thereby depriving them of the right to operate their accounts like any “normal” person. Pincha was refused the facility of opening an account in the Guwahati branch of I.D.B.I. bank citing his blindness as reason. When he persisted, they conceded, but demanded a written undertaking, which in the normal course people are not asked to do.

More ironic is the fact that this step was taken by the bank in gross misinterpretation of an order of 5 September 2005 issued by the Deputy Commissioner (Disabilities), Government of India, which among other things, restricted the enjoyment of cheque facility by visually impaired people and limited it only to issue of crossed cheques - this too only for certain specific purposes such as payment of phone or electricity bills. “Not only that, the Deputy Commissioner (Disabilities) also considered that all blind people invariably put only thumb impressions, and that they are incapable of putting signature,” Pincha was quoted in a newspaper report.

This is a sad commentary on the outlook of the Deputy Commissioner (Disabilities). But, in a move that could put an end to such apathy, in the next hearing the High Court will take up the issue of examining the legality of the order issued by the Deputy Commissioner (Disabilities) on 5 September, 2005, disallowing visually impaired persons the facility of operating a savings bank account like any other person.

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