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HC tells Railways to reconsider policy on commuters’ security

The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Railways to reconsider its policy on providing security to commuters in long-distance trains while hearing a petition filed by a young woman who lost her leg after being was pushed out of a moving train as she was chasing a thief running away with her bag.

The Railways informed the court that trains are classified into three categories for the purpose of providing security — highly vulnerable, vulnerable and normal. In case of highly vulnerable trains, security is provided while in vulnerable trains, security is provided randomly. In case of normal trains, no security is provided.

To this, the bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka said “your (Railways) policy on the issue of providing security to the commuters in trains is not proper. Reconsider your policy and take a stand by March 21,” the Judges said while adjourning the hearing until then.

The victim identified as Bhavika Mehta, who was travelling from Amritsar to Mumbai Central in 2012, was robbed on board. When she tried to chase the thief, the accused pushed her out of the moving train. Mehta’s leg was amputated because of the injuries.

She had filed a petition claiming compensation from the Railways following the accident.

As Mehta could not take medical aid in a nearby civil hospital, she got herself admitted to a private hospital in Chandigarh and claimed a compensation of Rs 9 lakh. This was granted to her but later, to fit a prosthetic leg an extra Rs 5 lakh was required, which the Railways has refused to give. Aggrieved, she moved the High Court.

Appearing for Mehta, advocate Uday Warunjikar argued, “The railways have been negligent in not attending to the medical needs of the girl (and) her family members had to run from pillar to post to get the required amount.”

However, counsel for the railways said, “The railways is liable to pay compensation only if it is proved that negligence was committed on its behalf.”
The issue on security in trains cropped up after the court observed that it was an admitted position that no constable was deployed in the compartment and it was a clear violation of the fundamental rights of commuters as their lives were endangered.

The bench at an earlier hearing was irked with the affidavit filed by the divisional medical officer of Central Railway stating that Mehta could have avoided the accident.

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