The Bombay High Court has directed the Central and Western Railways to reserve 14 seats for senior citizens by April 15.
The division bench said that it is the responsibility of the railways to reserve seats for senior citizens. It has also directed the authorities to ensure unrestricted access to citizens, keeping in mind that the seats reserved for pregnant women and disabled are not diverted for this purpose.
These directions have come in response to a PIL filed in 2009, where the court took suo moto cognizance. The court had termed it as a “human issue” and directed the railways to reconsider its issue of not providing a separate compartment for senior citizens in suburban trains.
In response to this, the railways had informed the court that it was not practical to have a separate compartment for senior citizens or reserve seats. “If a compartment is earmarked for senior citizens, the space for general second-class passengers would be curtailed, resulting in excessive crowding and accidents”, said the Western Railway divisional commercial manager Ashok Tiwari in an affidavit filed in response.
In another PIL filed by Oro foundation the High court of delhi in Januray 2014 has already directed the Indian railways to look into the complaint filed by the said NGO. the complaint filed by the ORO Foundation sought to provide better medical facilities to the passengers in long distance trains.
In another PIL, the Bombay High Court has also sought a reply from Western and Central Railway on a public interest litigation alleging failure of authorities to make railway stations disabled-friendly.
The direction was given by a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka on a PIL filed by India Centre for Human Rights and Law seeking to make urban transport in the city accessible to the disabled, as provided under the law.
The court had earlier opined that special facilities should be there on the platforms to allow disabled persons to board the trains without any problem. Under the Persons with Disability Act, there is a special “non-discrimination” clause that makes it mandatory for the government and other agencies to make public spaces and transport facilities disabled-friendly.