The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which clearly commits to the rights of persons with disabilities and their access to services. Article 9 of the Convention enables persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life and also gives them access to facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and rural areas. Additionally, Article 12 states “Parties shall take all appropriate and effective measures to ensure the equal right of persons with disabilities to own or inherit property, to control their own financial affairs and to have equal access to bank loans, mortgages and other forms of financial credit, and shall ensure that persons with disabilities are not arbitrarily deprived of their property.”
In the event of a customer who is too ill to sign a cheque and he cannot be physically present in the bank to withdraw cash. Bankers are familiar with several such situations, when old, sick and incapacitate persons are not willing to open joint accounts with other family members. RBI advises all the naks that for such persons, they should extend helping hand and make them comfortable by offering special service to them. When old and sick person or physically disabled person couldnot visit the branch to operate his account, one of the responsible bank officials should visit the account holder’s house and get the signature or thumb/toe impression of the account holder. The thumb/toe impression of the sick or old or incapacitate persons shall be identified by two independent witnesses known to the bank and one witness from a responsible bank official. Banks should also ensure that the ATMs are accessible to other categories of persons with disabilities such as the orthopedically disabled.
Opinion of Indian Banks’ Association on the question of opening of bank account by a person who has lost both his hands and cannot sign is as under.
“In terms of the General Clauses Act, the term “Sign” with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions, shall, with reference to a person who is unable to write his name, include “mark” with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions. The Supreme Court has held in AIR 1950 – Supreme Court, 265 that there must be physical contact between the person who is to sign and the signature or the mark put on the document. Therefore, in the case of the person who has lost both his hands, the signature can be by means of a mark. This mark can be placed by the person in any manner. It could be the toe impression as suggested. It can be means of mark which anybody can put on behalf of the person who has to sign, the mark being put by an instrument which has had physical contact with the person who has to sign”.