The Delhi High Court on Friday sought response from the Centre on why facilities for the differently abled persons in the Indian Railways were beyond their access.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar took suo moto cognizance of a media report that said the door of a special compartment for the disabled was shut and that a youth missed his M.Phil test at the Delhi University (DU).
“There are special needs of every nature of disability which the Railways has to take into consideration,” said the court, adding that even the Delhi University did not pay attention to the ordeal of the student, Vaibhav Shukla, telling him that they cannot help him.
“This newspaper report highlights the difficulties which are being faced by the disabled persons in accessing even the coaches which are designated to be used by them. It also manifests that the railway authorities are not only not posting 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 abled persons to occupy these reserved coaches which prevents them from being utilised for the benefit of the special persons for whom they are intended,” said the court.
Shukla had attempted to 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 M.Phil course for the current year conducted by the DU, said the media report.
But when he tried to board the coach reserved for disabled persons which was next to the engine, the persons who were occupying the compartment refused to open the door.
The court said the railways have not addressed the special needs of persons with disabilities and noted that the placement of the coaches for the disabled itself does not appear to be fair.
The court said: “Indian passenger trains have several bogies and sometimes the first and the last coaches are way beyond the length of the small platforms. The height of the coach from the ground by itself at such end-points would be such that it would be daunting even for any person to board it. The inaccessibility of the railways as a mode of transport for the disabled would thus be unimaginable.”
The court asked railway authorities to file a disability-wise status report and DU was also asked whether it can conduct an examination for Shukla to enable him to secure an admission if he qualified for the course and the session for which he had applied.
The court posted the matter for July 24.