Railways says disabled-friendly counters problem for others, earns court rap

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Thursday chided the railways for saying that providing low-height booking counters for wheelchair-bound commuters on the suburban stations will inconvenience others.  The reaction came from a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Anil Menon after a reading of the Central Railway affidavit handed over by advocate Sangeeta Yadav.

The affidavit stated: “The low height booking counter is inconvenient to the normal passengers. Considering the volume of traffic, exclusive counters for wheel-chaired passengers is not desired.”  It said that though every day 1,800-2,000 passengers were inconvenienced at counters meant for passengers on wheelchairs, at least one low-height counter was being provided at stations.  Advocate Gayatri Singh, representing petitioner India Centre for Human Rights and Law, said the same was repeated in the Western Railways affidavit.

The bench, hearing a PIL for making the railways disabled friendly, asked if the railways had any choice but to provide the facilities mandated by law. “Is it your discretion to provide facilities? You feel because they are few [in number], you need not provide it,” Justice Oka said. “You say it is not desirable. You decide whether you want to provide the facilities or not? Can it be the stand of the railways?” The judges said the CR also states that it is not possible to provide low-height water taps at Masjid and Cotton Green stations. In their order, the bench noted that in August 2007 the high court had recorded the Centre’s statement that the railways was bound to provide facilities for the disabled.

Rosy Sequeira, TNN | Jan 8, 2015, 11.30PM IST

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