Provide free wheelchair at stations to persons with disabilities: Delhi HC to Railways

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Railways to provide free of charge assistance, including wheelchair facility, to persons with disabilities at stations.

A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan was hearing a suo motu petition initiated by the high court in 2017 after coming across a report that the door of a special compartment for the disabled was shut because of which a youth missed his MPhil test at the Delhi University in July that year.

Senior advocate SK Rungta, who was appearing as amicus curiae to assist the court, said the only issue that survived in the matter was with respect to providing human assistance to persons with visual impairment who face difficulties in locating their trains, coaches, etc at railway stations.

He said although the facility to access wheelchair was available at all important railways, it was on a payment of Rs 250, which was at times even more than that the train fare paid by such persons after taking into account the concession granted to them.

The senior lawyer emphasised that free wheelchair facility was also being offered by airlines and Delhi metro to travellers.

The bench, also comprising Justice Mini Pushkrana, asked the counsel for the Railways to waive the amount as it observed that use of wheelchair reduces the chances of injury for persons with disabilities.

“Why can’t you make it free for them? Instead of charging Rs 250, make it free for them. They deserve this,” the court said.

“This court is of the prima facie view that assistance to physically challenged persons at railway stations should be free of charge”, it added.

The counsel for the Railways sought time to seek instructions on the issue.

The matter would be heard next on December 7.

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