The Bombay High Court turned down the proposal of Western and Central Railways to levy cess on suburban commuters to finance emergency medical care at stations, stating that it was the statutory obligation of the authorities under the Constitution to provide such service.
Suresh Kumar, Railway Counsel, informed a bench headed by Justice Oka that the authorities were proposing to levy a cess on monthly season ticket holders for such services.
However, the bench rejected the proposal saying that the Railways were under the obligation to provide emergency medical services free of cost to the commuters. Even the Constitution gave a right to the citizens to enjoy the right to safety, the bench ruled.
While the Railways pleaded that their expenditure exceeded income and hence a levy was proposed, the petitioner, Sameer Zaveri, who himself lost both his legs in an accident, argued that suburban Railways were making a profit.
Zaveri said he had learnt through an RTI that the annual income of the suburban Railways was to the tune of Rs 1,824 crore, while the expenditure was Rs. 1,624 leaving a balance of Rs. 200 crore as surplus.
The court also ordered the Railways to provide Emergency Medical Rooms at all the stations as soon as possible.
The Railways informed that at big stations, where the accidents have numbered more than 100 in the recent months, emergency medical rooms would be set up in three months and at other stations they would come up in the next six months.
The bench, however, asked the Railways to provide such services at the earliest.
The court directed the Maharashtra Government to provide cardiac care unit to the ambulances stationed at the railway stations to carry accident victims to hospitals in emergency.
“In keeping with the court orders, the Railways have to provide at their own cost an emergency medical room equipped with a bed, doctor and a nurse at every station and also keep ambulance as stand by to shift injured to hospitals in case of accidents,” said the bench.
Hundreds of people die every year on city’s suburban railway system after falling from overcrowded trains and crossing the tracks, the PIL said and sought medical facilities for accident victims in the “golden hour” (within one hour of the accident).