Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court

Mumbai: Expressing 'satisfaction' over the measures taken by both Western and Central railways for the safety of women and timely help for accident victims, the Bombay High Court on Thursday disposed of a bunch of petitions.

A bench of Justices Satayranjan Dharmadhikari and Riyaz Chagla expressed satisfaction over the claims made by the Railways that it has enhanced the surveillance on platforms and also on trains. However, the number of instances of men boarding women's compartments have seen a spurt.

The judges were seized with petitions filed by activist Sameer Zaveri seeking directions to the Railways to protect women passengers and also to provide emergency medical facilities to passengers in times of urgency. The petitions also demanded action against officers of the Railway Police Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP), who indulge in unethical activities.

The Western Railway (WR), in its affidavit, highlighted its use of social media like starting a WhatsApp group and also a Twitter handle for addressing the issues raised by women passengers. It also spelt that it has increased the number of male and female constables to escort the women's compartments. It further informed that it has increased surveillance with the help of installing CCTVs at most of its stations.

As far as the Central Railway (CR) is concerned, it informed the judges that even as it increased the number of coaches from 12 to 15, its efforts were still underway to bring down the number of accidents taking place on a daily basis. It said due to overcrowding the accidents continue to take place.

The CR further told the judges that to bring down the number of accidents, it has successfully increased the lines at a few stations and that similar operations are being carried out at other stations in its jurisdiction.

Both the railways highlighted the fact that there has been a spurt in the instances of men travelling in women's coaches. As per the official data, a total of 10,938 cases were registered in 2017 alone wherein men were caught travelling in women's compartments. The numbers rose to 12,128 in 2018 and further 13,007 in 2019.

The railway highlighted that 18 officers from GRP and RPF have been booked and penalised for 'major' misconduct or violations while 90 were brought to book for minor violations. It further claimed that over Rs 30 lakh has been recovered from all the violators including the men, apprehended for travelling in compartments meant for women.

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Free Press Journal