MUMBAI: A PIL has been filed in the Bombay High Court seeking a separate compartment with separate entrance for senior citizens in local trains similar to the one provided exclusively for cancer patients and persons with disability.
The PIL was filed by K. P. Purushothamam Nair, is a senior citizen who travels regularly between Bandra and Churchgate. On January 2, 2022, he received a communication from the Central Railway stating that separate bogie for senior citizens is not justified due to high rush of general passengers in local trains.
Therefore, Purushothamam, who is a lawyer and a retired Senior Private Secretary in the High Court, approached the court.
About 50,000 senior citizens travel daily in local trains and it is difficult even for younger passengers to board the train during peak hours, according to the petition.
The plea submits that senior citizens find it extremely difficult to enter into general second-class compartment where certain seats have been reserved for them. The seats are therefore occupied by non-senior citizens. According to the petition, these persons don’t listen to senior citizens’ request to allow them to sit on the seats.
According to the petition, 14 earmarked seats for senior citizens are not sufficient. Further, these 14 seats do not have easy, free, and unobstructed entrance. This has rendered the purpose of reserving seats for senior citizens ‘otiose’, the plea states.
A separate compartment with separate entrance in the vein of that provided for persons with disability and cancer patients should be made available to senior citizens, the petitions contends. This will also increase the number for seats available for senior citizens to 25.
According to the petition, the separate compartment should be provided in the middle portion of the train or any other place that the railways deem fit as a senior citizens are not able to get to the reserve seats inside the second-class general compartments. During peak hours, it is very difficult for the senior citizens to board and alight from the train due to overcrowding at the entrance of each compartment, the plea claims.
Therefore, the petition prays for directions to the Railways to consider providing one compartment with a separate entrance for senior citizens in the local trains in Mumbai.
In 2014, the High Court in a suo moto PIL filed in 2009, suggested that one compartment can be designated for handicapped and senior citizens.
Subsequently, the court directed Central Railway and Western Railway to submit a comprehensive proposal to the Railway Board for relief to problems faced by senior citizens. The railway board was directed to take appropriate decision on the proposal.
Thereafter, 14 seats were reserved for senior citizens in each train. The court observed that the railways had a duty to ensure that senior citizens can avail the benefits of reserved seats.
The court, in its judgement in the suo moto PIL of 2009, directed the Railways to ensure that senior citizens have an easy, free and unobstructed access to the reserved seats.
After no steps were taken by the railways for a separate compartment for senior citizens, the petitioner made a representation before the High Court. The court forwarded this representation to Central Railway and Western Railway requesting them to look into the matter and inform the petitioner about any action taken.