Rosy Sequeira TNN
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday lambasted the railways for not implementing a 1998 circular for providing general commuter amenities, including separate toilets and low-height ticket windows, at every station for the disabled.
Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Roshan Dalvi were hearing a PIL filed in 2007 by NGO Disability Rights Initiative for making railway facilities accessible for the physically challenged. The NGO’s advocate, Kranti L C, said though by its circular dated December 30, 1998, the railways was to provide one accessible toilet and one ticket window at every station, it has taken a stand that it is not possible. The Western Railway (WR) advocate Beni Chatterji said that the circular was not pointed out before. “If you have your own norms, then why do you need someone else to tell you?” Justice Shah asked Chatterji.
Kranti also pointed out that additional solicitor general Darius Khambatta called a meeting, on the court’s instruction, but even his recommendations that the railways should provide the amenities at every station as a start was not complied with. Chatterji said the NGO must give details of the deficiencies. Kranti said the last audit in May 2011 shows that the basic facilities are missing at the railway stations. When Chatterji sought the court’s order to have a railway officer to assist a committee appointed by the court, 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. The railways administration has been directed to submit a plan for implementation of amenities within four weeks.