High Court asks railways why coaches for passengers with disabilities were removed
Asia-Pacific, June 14 2017
MADURAI, INDIA: The Madras High Court Bench here on Monday gave a final chance to Southern Railway to file its counter-affidavit to a public interest litigation petition seeking a direction to it to annexe second class luggage rake for disabled (SLRD) coaches in Mannai Express, Rockfort Express and Cheran Superfast Express for the benefit of passengers with disabilities.
A Division Bench of Justices A. Selvam and N. Authinathan adjourned the hearing to July 12 after counsel for Southern Railway S. Manohar sought some more time to file the counter-affidavit.
The case was filed in February on the basis of a news report that appeared in the The Hindu Tamil on October 27 with regard to removal of such coaches from express trains.
During the course of hearing, Mr. Justice Selvam wondered how Southern Railway removed the SLRD coaches when it had a statutory obligation towards the physically challenged under the provisions of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act of 1995.
“You should provide these coaches in all the trains and not just in the three trains for which the petition has been filed,” the judge told counsel before granting a “final” opportunity to file a counter affidavit.
B. Karthee (27), a resident of Andalpuram near here had filed the case, after claiming to have personally verified the veracity of the news report.
In an affidavit, filed through his counsel R. Alagumani, the petitioner pointed out that physically challenged passengers desperately required SLRD coaches where they were given in priority in booking since such passengers could not be expected to compete with able-bodied men and women in occupying the heavily crowded general coaches of express trains.
He also pointed out that the annual report of Indian Railways for the year financial year 2011-12 had stated that SLRD coaches with wider entrance door for easy ingress and egress of wheelchairs, wider aisles and modified toilets had been attached in almost all express trains, except Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Jan Shatabdi and Duronto Express.
However, these coaches were suddenly removed from Mannai Express, Rockfort Express and Cheran Superfast Express last year much to the dismay of the physically challenged, the petitioner said and claimed that the Southern Railway did not consider a representation made by him in January this year to reattach the coaches to the three express trains.