Providing relief to elderly people travelling in local trains, the Bombay High Court today directed the Western and Central Railways to reserve 14 seats exclusively for senior citizens in every suburban train by April 15.
The court also directed the railway authorities to ensure that these reserved seats are utilised by senior citizens only. Though at present there are some seats kept in the local trains for senior citizens, they are reserved only for some time in a day and that too during the non-rush hour.
"No senior citizen, practically, is able to avail the benefit of the seats reserved for them in the general second class compartment," observed a division bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka. The court came down heavily on the Railways for showing hesitation in formulating a workable plan to effectively implement the decision of the Railway Board.
The court made the observation while hearing a suo-motu case based on a letter written by a freedom fighter and senior citizen A B Thakkar. In his letter, he had raised the issues faced by senior citizens who are travelling by the suburban local trains. His letter had pointed out that though there were compartments reserved for the physically-handicapped and cancer patients, no such arrangements have been made for senior citizens.
Just after the court took note of the letter addressed by Thakkar, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had sent a letter to the Railway Board last year apprising it about the difficulties faced by senior citizens in local trains. The decision of the railways to provide reserved seats for senior citizens came after the Railway Board acted on the letter.