'What facilities do disabled have in trains,' HC asks Govt
Lack of facilities for differently abled persons in the Indian Railways on Friday prompted the Delhi High Court to ask the Centre about the measures in place.
The high court said there were "special needs of every nature of disability which the railways has to take into consideration".
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar on its own initiated a PIL on the issue after coming across a report that the door of a special compartment for disabled was shut and such a youth missed his MPhil test at the Delhi University.
Terming the report as an eye opener, the bench remarked that even the Delhi University (DU) did not pay attention to the ordeal of the student Vaibhav Shukla, telling him that they cannot help him.
As per the news report, the student had attempted to board the Gorakhdham Express operated by the North-Eastern Railway at the Unnao railway station in Uttar Pradesh on July 5 to appear in the entrance exam for the MPhil course for the current year conducted by the DU.
When he tried to board the coach reserved for disabled persons which was next to the engine, the persons who were occupying the compartment refused to open the door which remained closed, it said.
The other coach reserved for the disabled was placed at the other end of the train and Shukla could not reach it, the bench noted in its order.
"This newspaper report highlights the difficulties which are being faced by the disabled persons in accessing even the coaches which are designated to be used by them.
"It also manifests that the railway authorities are not only not posting any personnel in the coaches earmarked for the disabled to ensure their rights and to assist them to board the train, but are also permitting able persons to occupy these reserved coaches which prevents them from being utilised for the benefit of the special persons for whom they are intended," it said.
The bench said that the placement of the coaches for the disabled itself does not appear to be fair.
"Indian passenger trains have several bogies and sometimes the first and the last coaches are way beyond the length of the small platforms.
"The height of the coach from the ground by itself at such end-points would be such that it would be daunting even for any person to board it. The inaccessibility of the railways as a mode of transport for the disabled would thus be unimaginable," the high court noted.