The safety and security of passengers is of “paramount importance” to the Railways, the Delhi High Court said on Thursday, as it asked the state-run transport behemoth to ensure periodic audit of safety measures on trains and at railway stations.
The high court’s order came while disposing of a petition filed by lawyer Kush Kalra, seeking safety and security measures like baggage scanners, hand-held metal detectors and CCTV cameras at all railway stations in the country and installation of anti-collision devices.
The high court, which took note of the safety and security measures being taken by the authorities, said they clearly reflect that the Indian Railways has been taking all necessary safeguards to ensure there is no breach in this respect.
“The affidavit (by Centre) reveals that the Railways have presently installed CCTV cameras, luggage scanning devices, door frame metal detectors, hand held metal detector, body worn cameras and dogs (sniffer and tracker), automatic train protection system etc,” a bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Saurabh Banerjee said.
“In light of the affidavits filed by the Union of India, nothing more is required and, thus, the present PIL stands disposed of. However, the respondents shall ensure that there is a periodic audit in respect of the safety and security measures in the Indian Railways and after conducting periodic audit and assessing the situation, the Government of India shall ensure maintenance of highest standards of safety and security at railway stations all over the country,” the bench said in its order.
Kalra alleged there was a lack of safety and security measures at majority of the train stations in the country.
He said he had drawn the attention of the railway authorities towards inadequate safety measures at stations but no steps were taken to rectify the situation.
The government’s affidavit said all India helpline number 139 is being used for assistance in case of complaints and the Railway Protection Force’s Twitter handle is available for passengers in case they have to file a complaint or seek assistance.
It said operation Meri Saheli’ has been launched to ensure safety and security of women passengers, especially those travelling alone, besides providing a child helpline and deploying anti-trafficking units at stations.
Regarding anti-collision devices, the affidavit said Automatic Train Protection Systems are being put in place. An anti-collision device developed by Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd (KRCL) is in place as a pilot project on 1736 km route of the Northeast Frontier Railways.
It said the public-sector transporter has undertaken the task of providing CCTV cameras at all the 6124 railway stations.
About efforts to check alcohol consumption on railway premises and trains, the court was informed action is being taken for drunkenness or creating nuisance under the Railway Act, and 42,086 offenders have been prosecuted till July 2022.
It said the Railway Protection Force and Government Railway Police are escorting 3,200 trains per day for safe and secure journey of passengers.
It said 245 luggage scanning devices have been installed on platform entry points and 977 door frame metal detectors have put in place at stations. Altogether 4846 hand held detectors are there at various railway stations.
The petitioner claimed the Indian Railways has in replies to Right to Information (RTI) queries admitted it has received huge budgetary allocations for safety and security measures at all its stations.
“Despite the availability of resources, the respondent (railways) has failed to implement and take necessary steps towards making railway stations safe and secure through installation of the desired safety and security mechanism,” the petition contended.
Kalra also claimed railway stations are soft targets for terror attacks and such incidents have occurred in the past resulting in huge casualties.
“Some safety and security measures are already existing in some railway stations while being completely absent from the others. The respondent cannot adopt a pick and choose method and decide in its own wisdom to identify railway stations for installation of safety and security measures to the exclusion of the others,” he said.