Bombay High Court pulls up Railways for lack of inclusive amenities including toilets

Mumbai, Jan 30, 2012: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday lambasted the Railways for not implementing its own circular of 1998 for providing general commuter amenities including separate toilets and low height ticket windows at every station for the disabled.A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Roshan Dalvi were hearing a public interest litigation filed in 2007 by the Disability Rights Initiative for for making railway facilities accessible for the disabled. The NGOs advocate Kranti L C said though by its own circular dated December 30, 1998 the Railways were to provide one accessible toilet and one ticket window at every station, it has taken a stand that it is not possible.

Western Railway advocate said that this circular was not pointed out before.If you have your own guidelines, then why do you need someone else to tell you?'' asked Justice Shah to Western Railway advocate Beni Chatterji.Kranti also pointed out that a meeting was taken by Additional Solicitor General Darius Khambatta on the court's instruction but even his recommendations that the Railways should provide at least one accessible toilet and one ticketing window at every station as a start was not complied with. Chatterji said the NGO must give details of the deficiencies. According to us , all is in place,'' he added. Kranti said the last audit in May 2011 shows that basic facilities are missing at the railway stations.The judges directed the chairperson of the committee to be present in court. When Chatterji sought court's order to have a railway officer to assist the committee, the judges were perturbed at his request. Why do you want the court to pass such orders? This is a bureaucratic approach,'' said Justice Shah. In their order, the judges accepted the request of the Railways to have the Additional Divisional Railway Manager (Operations) to assist the committee.The judges have directed the Railways to submit an action plan for implementation of amenities within four weeks. Additionally, they also directed that the railways should forthwith take steps to build accessible toilets and ticket windows at every station.The matter will be heard on March 1, 2012. (Source: D&A)

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