D.N.I.S. News Network- In a huge breakthrough that may change the face of Indian Railways, the Delhi High Court has pulled up the world’s largest passenger carrier for not implementing the Disability Act despite a decade having gone by since the statute mandated barrier-free travel and special services.
Reacting to an affidavit submitted by the Railways in response to the Public Interest Litigation filed by Disabled Rights Group (D.R.G.), the two-judge bench said, “Even if there was no statute, the carrier should have thought of comfortable travel for disabled passengers.”
Further, Justices Vijender Jain and Rekha Sharma said that the time frame of six months as proposed by the Railways for conducting a technical feasibility survey of various stations to create access features is too long. The Judges asked Director of Establishment B. Majumdar, who was present in the Court, to finish the task in four months.
The Judges took note that affidavit talks only about ramps and not about lifts. Justice Jain drew the attention of the Railways to its massive revenue earning by A and A1 category stations and asked why lifts could not be installed at these stations.
The affidavit refers to the introduction of special coaches for disabled people and seeks eight-years to make them a part of all mail/express passenger trains. The court shot down the proposed time-frame and reduced it to two-years and also criticised the Railways for not proposing to add these coaches in Air - Conditioned (A.C.) category. The Judges asked why disabled people should be denied comfort of A.C. travel like all other passengers.
The Judges passed an order stating that all stations should not only have wheelchairs available but a clear signage, in English, Hindi and regional language, giving the name and location of the official incharge for providing this assistance.
“The Station Master will be held personally liable in case of a lapse,” the Judges added.
Taking cognisance of the need for broad based consultation in ensuring a holistic assessment and preparation of blueprint for making the Railways accessible, the Court asked the Railways to take feedback from D.R.G. and accommodate their suggestions.