The Bombay high court on Thursday said that the Railways was “duty bound” to provide facilities for specially abled passengers and directed both the Central and Western railways to formulate a concrete plan for the same.
A division bench of Justices VM Kanade and PR Bora said that the authorities must make a “separate budgetary allocation” for sprucing up existing infrastructure and providing requisite, new infrastructural facilities for the specially abled.
The bench said, “Earlier, no one even recognised the rights of the specially abled. But now, following the introduction of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, there must be a complete overhaul of the existing infrastructure.”
The court was hearing a PIL by the India Centre for Human Rights and Law claiming that most of the 124 suburban railway platforms in Mumbai did not have any facilities to make the stations and trains easily accessible for the specially abled passengers.
The petitioner said that most stations did not have ramps, tactile indicators on the floors, low-height booking windows, drinking water, and toilet facilities.
On Thursday, the Western Railways filed a compliance report, and told the court that it had installed escalators at most platforms on the Western line. It also said that soon, new lifts would also be installed at the stations.
At this the bench said that while it understood that this was a “humongous task and can’t be done overnight, it was important that the authorities understood the needs and rights of the specially abled.”
The HC has granted six weeks to the Railways to file a report within six weeks.
In the last hearing, the court had warned the railways of contempt in case of inaction. At the time, the court had also sought the names of the Western and Central railway officers responsible for ensuring that disabled-friendly amenities are at the suburban stations so that contempt action could be initiated against them if they failed to take appropriate action.