Railways have understood seriousness of women’s safety, observes High Court

Mumbai: Observing that the Railways have become more “sensitive” towards women, the Bombay High Court recently disposed off a suo motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL) pertaining to safety of women in Mumbai local trains. This comes after the Railways apprised the HC of its various initiatives for safeguarding women. A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Nitin Jamdar had taken up a suo motu PIL pursuant to a news story published by a national daily in 2011. The news story highlighted an incident wherein a woman commuter was allegedly molested in a local train and when she approached the Railway Protection Force  (RPF) to report the incident, she was asked not to report such issues.

During the course of the hearing, the Railways apprised the bench of various corrective steps it has undertaken to provide a safe journey to women commuters. The railway authorities informed the bench of surveillance cameras, which have been installed at the railway stations. “The process of cameras in all train compartments, not only in ladies compartments, is ongoing and is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The RPF has been undertaking special drives for apprehending miscreants who block the ladies compartments,” the Railways submitted.

“Surprise checks are being taken. A social media group called Sakhi has been created to exchange information and to extend necessary assistance in distress. Additional women policing staff has been outsourced from the government. A mobile phone application called Eye-Watch Women Security has been launched. Security help-line has been provided for. Panic buttons have been installed in the ladies coaches with a Talk Back system,” the Railways submitted further.

Having heard the submissions, the bench said, “The Railway authorities have informed us that they are sensitizing their personnel on gender issues and inter-personnel skills. The insensitivity shown by the Railway staff in the year 2011 which led to this court taking cognizance has been addressed to by the Railway authorities.” “We can see that the Railway authorities have understood the seriousness of the issue and are taking steps towards its redressal. We expect the Authorities to keep up their initiatives,” the judges said while disposing off the petition.

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