“It is time the railways had a separate department to handle all this [accident cases],” remarked Justice V.M. Kanade on Monday while hearing a contempt petition filed against the railways.
In his petition, Samir Zaveri, who has lost both legs in a rail accident, alleged that the railways have “miserably failed to ensure the safety of commuters and implement the high court orders”.
The contempt petition sought that the chief commissioner of the railways, Western Railway general manager and Railway Board officers be sent to jail for six months for not implementing court orders.
The court observed that the railways should have a separate department to tackle the issue of accidents and ensure that victims are provided immediate medical aid.
Justice Kanade asked the railway authorities to meet the petitioners and “see how the system can be improved”.
Zaveri’s lawyers, Jamshed Mistry and Dipesh Siroya, filed an additional affidavit refuting the railways’ claim that they have been implementing most of the HC directives.
In 2004, the high court ordered that accident victims be taken immediately to the nearest hospital, all trains should have walkie-talkies and all stations should have at least two light-weight folding stretchers, which should be cleaned after each use.
But none of these directions have been implemented.
In December 2009, the railways filed an affidavit saying it was “practically impossible” to implement all HC orders.
Zaveri’s affidavit said that though the railways have appointed a monitoring
committee to review whether the court orders are implemented, it has not been given any power.
He also alleged that the railways have failed to implement the Indian Railways Act, 1989. Section 57 of the Act says that maximum number of passengers should be fixed in each compartment.
A major cause for accidents is overcrowding, causing passengers to fall out of running trains, the affidavit said.
This is covered under the definition of “untoward incidents” under the Indian Railways Act, 1989, Zaveri’s affidavit added.