Mumbai HC asks ‘insensitive’ Central Railway authorities to Wake Up!

Gap trap: HC asks ‘insensitive’ Rly authorities to wake upMumbai:  Just a day after converting various reports from media into a suo-motu public interest litigation, the Bombay High Court gave an earful to the Railway authorities on Saturday.

The division bench headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah termed the Railway authorities insensitive and said they needed to wake up at least now.

The court was referring to the media reports published on January 18 about 21-year-old Khar resident Zia-Ul-Aminuddin Shaikh, who died due to a cardiac arrest, hours after losing his left leg in an accident at Andheri station. The accident was blamed on the gap between the platform and the compartment he was trying to board.

Addressing Suresh Kumar, advocate for the Railways, the bench said, “Saturday’s media report a third accident (that took place) in a similar manner. Your clients must wake up now at least. It appears that your officials don’t care for the life and limbs of people.”

The court further added that lives were being lost almost on a daily basis and the Railway authorities seemed to have become insensitive.

Since the January 11 Monica More incident, this has been third such incident where a person met with an accident due to the uneven gap between the platform and the train’s footboard. While 16-year-old Monica lost both her arms, in the second incident in this series, 31-year-old electrician Tanvir Sheikh lost both his legs when he slipped through the gap between the platform and a coach at Kurla station on Wednesday evening.

The Railways’ advocate was present before the court as an activist had moved an application before the bench seeking to tag his PIL filed on the issue ‘Railway passengers’ safety’ with the suo-motu PIL taken up by the Chief Justice on Friday. The HC rejected the application.

It also made clear that the main focus of the suo-motu PIL would be the gap between the platform and the train and autonomy of Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation.

Reproducing four reports from various media – Mind the gap, Mumbai (January 14); Time for suburban network to secede from rail ministry (January 15); Ambernath platforms pose daily risk for commuters (January 15); and City’s death-trap stations (January 17) – the court converted the matter to a PIL and posted its next hearing for February 13.

Chief Justice’s division bench has made the Union Railway Ministry, the Railway Board, Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation, and General Managers of Central, Western and Konkan railways respondents to the PIL.

Media launched a sustained campaign against the railways’ failure to raise the height of suburban platforms and the absence of emergency medical care at stations. Noting that the suburban railway services carry over 70 lakh passengers every day, the HC notice quotes from a report in this media on how a Central Railway’s request to raise the height of platforms over and above the nationally prescribed parameters has been pending with the Railway Board for four years.