Taking cognisance of a newspaper report which stated that a youth could not reach Delhi to take his MPhil exams because the door of a special compartment for disabled was shut, the Delhi High Court on Friday initiated a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on its own thereby issuing notices to the Railway Ministry and Delhi University among others.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar observed that there is a ‘lack of facilities for differently abled persons in the Indian Railways’ and ‘special needs of every nature of disability which the railways has to take into consideration’.
According to the report, the door of the special compartment for the disabled was shut following which Vaibhav Shukla could not board the Gorakhdham Express operated by the North-Eastern Railway at the Unnao Railway station in Uttar Pradesh on July 5 to appear in the entrance exam for the MPhil.
When he tried to board the coach reserved for the disabled near the engine, the persons in the compartment refused to open it. Shukla did not have any other option because the other coach was placed at another end of the train where he could not reach.
While seeking the response of the Centre, the bench said that even the Delhi University did not pay attention to the plight of the student. The court noted that the railways are not deploying any personnel in the coaches earmarked for the disabled to ensure their rights and to assist them to board the train, but are also permitting able persons to occupy these reserved coaches which prevents them from being utilised for the benefit of the special persons for whom they are intended.
While asking the authorities to file a disability-wise status report within ten days, the high court said the structure of the coaches are such that there is no room for manoeuvring a wheelchair/stretcher within the coach and consequently a person who is bed-ridden would never be able to even enter the first berth in the coach.
The court has asked the Delhi University whether they can conduct a re-examination for Shukla. It also sought to know from the Railways ministry and the North-Eastern Railways, why there should not be a facility enabling railway officials, including the driver and the guard of the train, to open and have access to a railway compartment from outside the coach.
Source Link – Dna India