The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday sought the response of the Union government on a plea to make railways stations of Konkan Railways disabled friendly by providing better facilities for boarding and de-boarding and amenities like waiting areas for passengers and better lighting. [George Fernandez vs Union of India and others].
A Division Bench comprising Justices Satish Chandra Sharma and Sachin Shankar Magadum issued notice in the plea which highlighted the difficulties faced by persons with disabilities and senior citizens at the railway stations of Konkan Railways.
The plea filed by one George Fernandez said that the Supreme Court had issued guidelines to provide better facilities for boarding and de-boarding at all public places including railway stations in order to facilitate travel of physically challenged and persons with disabilities (PWD), senior citizens as well as sick persons.
Pursuant to the same, Indian Railways have provided such facilities in almost all railway stations.
Unfortunately, no such facilities have been provided in any of the stations of Konkan Railways (KRCL), the plea said.
This is violative of not just the Supreme Court order but also Section 41 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, it was contended.
Railway stations of Konkan Railways are plagued by deficiencies such as lack of foot over bridge and platform of desired height, lack of boarding and de-boarding facilities for senior citizens and persons with disability, lack of basic amenities like lighting, shelter and places to sit.
"It is submitted that the Physically Challenged & Persons with Disabilities, Senior Citizen and Sickly Persons are facing lot of difficulties & untold misery while boarding & DE-boarding from Low Level Platforms, which usually halts for a minute or two. It becomes highly difficult for them to get down and reach safe destination," the petition stated.
Further, the plea said that Konkan Railway passengers are forced to cross railway track in the absence of adequate and proper boarding and de-boarding facilities and foot overbridges.
Apart from the movement on the railway track being illegal and an offence punishable under Section 147 of Indian Railway Act, 1989, the authorities of Konkan Railways are vicariously liable for criminal negligence for their failure to provide adequate and proper facilities of safeguards like “slop gradient second platforms, chains and guards, the plea said.
On these grounds, the plea also sought directions to the Central government to immediately issue a gazette notification to hand over Mangalore complex and Tokkuru Station to the South Western Railways.
However, the Court today made it clear that it would not consider the said prayer.
The matter will be heard again on October 10.