The Bombay high court on Friday directed the Western and the Central Railways to provide, by April 15, 14 easily accessible seats exclusively for senior citizens on every suburban train, and ensure the reserved seats are utilised by senior citizens only.
“Practically no senior citizen is able to avail of the seats reserved for them in the general second class compartment,” said the division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice AK Menon, while commenting on the present arrangement in local trains.
At present, some seats are shown reserved for senior citizens on most of the local trains on Western and Central lines. However, the seats reserved on general second class compartments are not segregated or accessible, as a result of which senior citizens are often unable to reach them.
Taking note of this, the bench directed the railways to ensure the seats reserved for senior citizens are available to them throughout the day, are easily accessible, and utilised only by senior citizens. It has also directed the railways to file a compliance report by April 18.
The court was hearing a suo-motu proceeding based on a letter written by freedom fighter and senior citizen AB Thakkar, raising issues faced by senior citizens while commuting on local trains in Mumbai. He had pointed out that though the Central and Western Railways have provided two separate compartments for physically handicapped people in suburban trains in Mumbai, no such facility was available to senior citizens, above 65 years of age.
After the court took note of the letter, the ministry of social justice and empowerment had sent a letter to the Railway Board last year.
In course of hearings, the railway administration had suggested senior citizens be allowed to travel in the coach reserved for disabled people, but the court had rejected the suggestion. The board eventually took a decision to provide 14 dedicated seats exclusively for senior citizens in every train. The decision, however, has not been implemented effectively. The court on Friday rapped the railway administration for this.