The Bombay high court on Wednesday directed the state home department to take action against several police personnel found travelling in suburban train compartments reserved for differently abled people and cancer patients.
A division bench of justices Abhay Oka and Anuja Prabhudessai also directed the director general of police (DGP) to issue a warning to all police personnel posted in and around Mumbai not to travel in compartments reserved for differently abled people and cancer patients.
“Police, who are supposed to be protectors of law, are themselves committing breaches by unauthorisedly travelling in compartments reserved for differently abled people and cancer patients,” the bench remarked after noticing that officials from central railway and the Railway Protection Force officials have last year forwarded 42 letters from May 2016 onwards to senior police officials incorporating names of several policemen and police officers found travelling in the reserved compartments.
The judges noted that no action has been taken by state authorities in spite of getting information about names, designations and other specific details of the policemen and officers caught travelling in reserved compartments. The court, therefore, directed the DGP and the home department to initiate within two months action against the police personnel whose names have been mentioned in the 42 letters, and submit a compliance report by May 2.
Noticing that funds of Rs5.07 crore have been provided for the purpose of installing CCTV cameras in reserved compartments on suburban trains and suburban railway stations, the bench directed that the work be completed within eight months.
The court was hearing a petition filed by 42-year-old Ghatkopar resident, Nitin Gaikwad, complaining about non-implementation of September 2013 order passed by the Commissioner for Disabilities directing railways to ensure no unauthorised passenger travels in the compartments reserved for differently abled people and cancer patients, and to take action against erring police personnel caught travelling in the compartment.
Gaikwad complained that during rush hours the reserved compartment becomes overcrowded because of unathorised passengers, thus making it difficult for differently abled people and cancer patients even to enter the the compartment.
Acting on the petition, the bench also directed the railways to appoint adequate number of special officers, as contemplated under provisions of the Persons with Disabilities Act, at each station to ensure that no unauthorised person enters the reserved compartment. Taking note of the petitioner’s complaint that the railway helpline for disabled people was useless, the bench directed the railways to maintain a register to record every complaint received on the helpline and the action taken on such complaints.
Western Railway will also have to take the measures ordered by the bench on Wednesday, as the bench has ordered a copy of the order to be forwarded to the General Manager, Western Railway for its implementation on that side.