A week after the Hindustan Times exposed the deplorable conditions in which train passengers were being forced to travel, the Delhi High Court has sought a response from the Railways Ministry on inadequate security for passengers.
The order came on a public interest litigation (PIL) that cited the three-part series, ‘India Derailed’, carried by HT and said despite claiming profit of Rs 70,000 crore, the railways was not spending a penny on passenger security and “providing hygienic atmosphere”.
Expressing serious concern over the increase in the incidents of robbery and loot in trains, especially after sundown, the petition filed by Supreme Court lawyers Usha Nandini and Biju Raman said: “The trains in India are no longer safe for night travel”.
A Bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Sanjiv Khanna wanted to know the steps the ministry was taking to ensure security, and the money being spent on it.
The Bench, while refusing to be drawn into other complaints raised in the petition for the time, concentrated on the security aspect.
The judges asked the ministry, Railway Board chairman, Southeast Central Railway’s general manager and divisional manager to send in the reply by April 15.
Nandini had filed the PIL following a robbery on board the Delhi-Thiruvananthapuram Kerala Express. Some intruders entered the AC I and II class coaches early January 24 between Nagpur and Belharshah. They allegedly used a spray, knocking the passengers unconscious.
The petitioner urged the court to direct the ministry to make it mandatory for all passengers boarding a reserved coach to carry identity proofs. The officials posted at the entry point should to cross-check details from the passenger list.