Unable to board train, blind youth misses DU exam; HC slams Rlys
The Times of India (Mumbai edition)
Jul 8 2017
New Delhi: On Friday, TOI’s New Delhi edition had reported on how a disabled student was unable to board a train and, as a result, missed his entrance examination for the MPhil course at Delhi University. Then, having missed the exam, DU officials told the student there was nothing they could do to help him.
The incident left the Delhi high court shocked as it questioned the Railways over lack of facilities for the differently abled.
The student, Vaibhav Shukla, who suffers from 100% visual impairment, missed his train at Unnao when people in the coach reserved for the disabled did not open the door for him.
A bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar took suo motu cognizance of the TOIreport and asked the Railways to explain why it was insensitive to the plight of the disabled. “This newspaper report highlights the difficulties that are being faced by the disabled persons in accessing even the coaches which are designated to be used by them. It also manifests that railway authorities are not only not posting any personnel in the coaches earmarked for the disabled to ensure their rights and to assist them to board the train, but are also permitting able persons to occupy these reserved coaches which prevents them from being utilised for the benefit of the special persons for whom they are intended,” the court noted in its order.
It added that there were “special needs of every nature of disability which the Railways has to take into consideration”. “The placement of coaches for the disabled itself does not appear to be fair. Indian passenger trains have several bogies and sometimes the first and the last coaches are way beyond the length of the small platforms. The height of the coach from the ground … would be such that it would be daunting even for any person to board it. The inaccessibility of the Railways as a mode of transport for the disabled would thus be unimaginable,” HC further noted.
Terming the report an eye-opener, the bench lamented that even DU did not pay attention to Shukla when he appealed to them. The court said that since Shukla had missed his exam under peculiar facts and circumstances, DU could consider holding an examination for him to get another shot at securing admission. The court stressed that if others encroach on seats for the disabled, they should be prosecuted. “We need to be informed about this aspect on the next date of hearing, July 24,” the bench added, indicating it also wants to examine the aspect of compensation for Shukla who “has undergone so much trauma for the callous disregard of his rights”.