The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the Railways to make all possible endeavours to ensure free of charge human assistance and wheelchair are provided to differently abled people at its stations. A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma sought a fresh status report from the authorities with regard to an earlier order on reserving some lower berths for the differently abled as well as giving free assistance to them, and said such facilities should at least be provided at the busy stations.
The order was passed on a PIL initiated by the high court in 2017 after a visually-impaired man missed his M.Phil entrance exam as he could not board a reserved compartment since it was locked from inside.
The respondent shall also make all possible endeavours to ensure that free of charge human assistance and wheelchair is provided to differently abled persons, said the bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad.
Noting that these facilities are being provided by the Delhi Metro as well, the court added the state-run transport behemoth shall certainly make all endeavours to make these available at maximum number of railway stations. It is not a big deal, at least in busy railway stations. At least in the four metros and class A cities it can be provided, the court said.
Senior advocate S K Rungta, who has been appearing as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the matter, told the bench that at this stage not much was required by way of attachment of coaches and reservation of seats for the differently abled but providing free escort and wheelchair was still an issue.
In July 2017, the high court had on its own initiated a PIL after coming across a news report that the door of a special compartment for the disabled in the Gorakhdham Express was shut, with the result that the person missed his MPhil test. Mincing no words, the court had said it was shocked over complete apathy of the Railways in treating its physically challenged passengers by placing the compartments for the disabled at end of the trains and providing little or no help for access.
The court had also said it will explore the possibility of compensation for the youth “who has undergone so much trauma for the callous disregard of his rights." The matter will be heard next on December 7.