Showing posts with label Indian Railway. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indian Railway. Show all posts

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Central Administrative Tribunal directs Railways to appoint visually impaired candidates

Dear Colleagues,

Railways has always been very reluctant to hire persons with disabilities citing safety and security reasons though not even a single incident of safety has been attributed to disability till date.  Its actually a mindset of the Human Resource officials, inherent prejudices who attach incapacity to the disabled. 

In the instant case, nearly 10,000 visually challenged candidates had reportedly appeared in the examination in November-December 2013 after the railways advertised for 7,386 vacancies. All of them were, however, issued rejection letters by the Indian Railways before the results were announced for being “100 per cent visually challenged”.

In protest, the applicants moved  a petition in Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), arguing that they are eligible and entitled to be considered for the posts, both on merit as well as under reservation for visually challenged persons.

The CAT in its order yesterday directed Northern Railways to publish a revised merit list and appoint the candidates, who qualified on merit as well as under the disability quota.

Arguing for the applicants, lawyer S K Rungta – himself visually challenged – said the Northern Railways’ recruitment cell must file complete results, including the results of 100 per cent visually challenged candidates, so that their merit position could be ascertained.

Rungta and lawyer Pankaj Sinha urged the court to direct the Railway Board to consider appointing the petitioners and other visually challenged candidates.

The railways responded by saying that the vacancies were for people with “low vision” and that 100 per cent visually challenged persons cannot be hired for the posts despite the fact that the posts in question are identified as suitable for completely blind by the Government of India.

The tribunal, however, directed Northern Railways and the Railway Board to publish the complete results within two months and appoint the qualified candidates.

Northern Railways spokesperson Neeraj Sharma refused to comment. “The matter is sub-judice, so we cannot comment. But the railways will take appropriate action after consulting its legal department,” he said.

Despite catena of judgments by High Courts and Supreme Court, the Railways continues to play hide and seek when it comes to the equal employment rights of the persons with disabilities. In this matter, despite CAT's direction,  I am sure, given the past experience, Railways will delay the matter by knocking the doors of Delhi High Court against the CAT Order. However, the writing is clear on the wall. The Railway officials in the Human Resource division needs serious sensitization on disability issues and also  need to put their house in order. The reporting mechanism, appraisal, posting/transfers, disability reservation & promotion processes & equalizing facilities, reasonable accommodation for the employees with disabilities is something that they desperately need to work on on an urgent basis. Hope the message goes to right people.

Related news in Indian Express today



Thursday, September 26, 2013

Disability Commission directs Railways to install CCTV in Coaches for Disabled

With the rampant misuse of coaches meant for the persons with disabilities by the police personnel and members of public, this decision of the commission should bring in some check on the misuse of the facility. Also the order highlights the  need of awareness and sensitization campaigns amongst police officials and general public.

Here goes the coverage in Times of India:

Nitasha Natu, Sep 20, 2013, 

MUMBAI: The state commission for persons with disabilities has instructed the railways to install CCTVs in coaches reserved for disabled and appoint a special officer to redress their grievances.

The order was passed by the Pune-based commission earlier this month in connection with a complaint filed by Nitin Gaikwad, a graphics designer from Ghatkopar. A graphics designer, Gaikwad had complained of plain-clothes policemen travelling in handicapped coaches with alarming frequency and bullying those who attempted to object.

"I had clicked photographs and videos of rogue cops and presented it before the commission," Gaikwad told TOI.

His counsel, Jayesh Tanna, added, "Once CCTVs are installed, the grabs will provide have great evidentiary value." Both, Gaikwad and Tanna are differently abled and got acquainted with each other on local trains. In April, they entered their complaint against Central Railway, the Government Railway Police (GRP) and the Railway Protection Force (RPF) with the state commission. The commission has ordered the railways to create a separate waiting area or seating area for disabled commuters at each railway station. The order adds that old suburban rakes also be fitted with public announcement systems to give information about the next scheduled halt of the train.

"Strict action needs to be taken against cops and illegal travellers in coaches reserved for the disabled and the prosecution statistics should be put up on pamphlets on platforms and inside compartments. Awareness and sensitization campaigns for cops and the public need to be carried out. Personnel handling railway helplines need to be instructed to attend to calls received from disabled commuters on a priority basis," the order stated.

In their response to the commission, the RPF stated that 40 cops had been arrested since 2012 and Rs 13,600 collected in fines for illegal travel in coaches for the disabled. The RPF also said they had intimated the Mumbai police chief about the menace and that all calls received on the railway helpline (1275) are recorded for monitoring.

"There's a great risk to life and safety of disabled commuters while boarding/alighting at Kalyan, Dombivali, Thane and Ghatkopar stations. The coaches are packed beyond capacity with unauthorized travellers. We are often shoved and pushed around, verbally abused and manhandled. An acquaintance of mine had an accident as a result, adding to his disability. The commission's order should bring some relief," Gaikwad said.

Prosecution against illegal travel in coaches for disabled (Central Railway)

Year 2012 (Jan to Dec)

Arrested: 11743
Fines: Rs 20.31 lakh
Jailed: 29

Year 2013 (Jan to April)

Arrested: 4319
Fines: Rs 8.03 lakh
Jailed: 16

Read from Source..... Times of India


Monday, January 30, 2012

Bombay Hight Courts directs Railways to be sensitive to disabled

Dear Friends,

Our disability law is almost 16 years old now. What it mandated to ensure accessibility for the disabled in public spaces including modes of transport such as road, Rail and airways, these modes continues to ignore the rights of the disabled people. There is some improvement in the road transport in few pockets such as a Metro Rail in Delhi or Low Floor buses with corresponding road infrastructure in BRT  dedicated corridors. However, largely, the railways has been most insensitive to the needs of the disabled. It impacts the persons with disabilities all the more aggressively since rail happens to be the most economic option for long distance travel in India. Knowing well their obligation under the disability law, the railways has taken resolutions/ passed memorandums and instructions. However, on ground there is hardly any change and the worst is the maintenance track record. One can find most unhygienic toilets on the Indian Railways - in both coaches and at platforms. This is just not managed professionally.  Here is some advice from the Mumbai High Court and I can tell you, there are several of such public interest litigation in various other High Courts in India with Railways only busy defending these cases in the Courts at the Exchequer expenses. Can  it deploy its resources to promote accessibility and good hygiene at Railway properties rather than paying hefty professional fee to Standing Counsels to defend the petitions against it? I am sure the former would be easier, cost effective and in the larger interest.

News coverage




Asking the Railways to be sensitive towards the needs of the differently-abled, the Bombay high court on Monday asked the body to address two primary issues immediately - disabled-friendly toilets and ticket windows of a lower level to make it accessible for a wheelchair-bound person.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by India Centre for Human Rights, an NGO, in 2007, seeking easy access for differently-abled persons to the railway platforms in the city.

A division bench of chief justices Mohit Shah and Roshan Dalvi has asked the court-appointed committee to devise a plan for implementing the 1998 government resolution which recommends establishing of disabled-friendly toilets and lower level ticket window at all city stations.
In October 2011, the HC had appointed a committee - one from the petitioner NGO, an officer from the accounts department, one engineer and three officers each from the Western and Central Railways - to come up with solutions for problems faced by the differently-abled.
“Without telling you (Railways), your officers should address the issues. You know your own recommendation since 1998. Why should someone else point it out to you?” asked chief justice.
The 1998 GR was pointed out by Kranti LC, advocate for the NGO, saying that the Railways have not been taking the initiative for making the platforms disabled-friendly.
Kranti pointed out that some of their NGO’s members had taken a survey of 104 stations. “Only 3% of toilets are accessible to the disabled,” he said. He further pointed out that in their July 2011 affidavit, they had suggested that slopes for access to platforms were too steep at several stations and this had not been rectified.
Beni Chatterji and Suresh Kumar - counsels for the Western railways - said that the NGO should point out the deficiencies to them and they would then take necessary actions. To this, chief justice frowned and said, “Why should anyone point out deficiencies? That’s why we have constituted the committee. What have you been doing?”
Chatterji assured the court that this time they would definitely look into their grievances. The chief justice suggested that Chatterji remain present in the next committee meeting.
Directing the railways to give priorities to the issues of toilets and lower ticket windows, the court has asked the railways to submit an Action Taken Report on the next date of hearing on March 1. 

Source: DNA  India

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Delhi High Court questions discrimination in Online Reservation in Railways



HC backs e-ticketing for disabled

Read the news directly from source:
Supporting the idea of e-ticketing facility for the physically challenged, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the Railways and the central government on a PIL demanding web reservation for them at concessional rates.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the authorities must first display the sensitivity and that the technical requirements could be taken care of subsequently.

Admitting a PIL filed by advocate Pankaj Sinha, a visually challenged lawyer, the Bench directed the counsel for the Railways and Additional Solicitor General A S Chandhiok, appearing for the central government, to explain why facility was denied to physically challenged people.

The Bench dismissed the argument of the Railways counsel that the physically challenged were not given the facility of e-ticketing because of concessions they availed and that their documents regarding the disability were to be verified first.

“How can you place it as a justification? They can always be asked to show documents before they start or during travel,” the Bench observed.

The court will now hear the matter on May 18.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Avoid frivolous lawsuits, ministries advised | iGovernment.in

Dear Friends,

Many ministries are notorious for filing lawsuits, Review Petitions and Appeals despite the Courts ordering as per the provisions of extant legislations, rules and bye-laws. I have pretty curious experience with one Union Ministry of Railways which defies all rules, laws and policies of the Government of India on employing persons with disabilities! They still consider the persons with disabilities as threat and employing them may lead to security issues. And they claim that being a railway responsible for the safety of passengers, they can not risk the life of passengers by employing persons with disabilities! Though there are no studies or scientific evidence to attribute any of the accidents in the Railways till date to the cause of Disability.

I call it a mind set. And we have seen it for over few years now that Railways has been at loggerheads with the Ministry of Social Justice literally pressuring the MSJE with reminder after reminder to consider their request for exempting all posts of railways from the purview of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 which is due for a sea-change in light of the new committee set up to suggest a New Legislation which is more right based.  The ministry of Social Justice has categorically refused for any such exemption however, that doesn't deter the Ministry of Railways.

I am wondering what would the Railways do when they would be confronted with the new disability law, which most of disability rights activists and supporters believe will usher a new era of rights based regime and ensure true inclusion of every personal experiencing disabilities of any kind.

I have few cases which I wanted to discuss, but for the lack of time, like that of one All India Confederation of the Blind is contesting against Railways seeking filling up of backlog of reserved vacanices in all cadres A,B,C and D and the one matter of Mr. Jayanta Khamari - a physically disabled civil engineer who has been serving in CPWD for past decade without any question on his ability, not finding welcome in Railway despite clearing the Engineering Services Exam on his own merit! The matter is still being contested by the Railways through a SLP before the Supreme Court of India despite loosing the matter in the court of Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities & before the Double Bench of Orissa High Court. Even their review petition was dismissed by the Ld High Court, Orissa as being devoid of any merit.

But the Ministry has the audacity to waste public money in frivolous litigation with impunity. Is Govt. of India monitoring how much their ministries wasting by just fighting against each other in the court of laws?

Any RTI will reveal, as to how many cases, writ petitions, PILs are being contested by Railways in different high courts in India merely on implementation of the Persons with Disabilities Act!

I do hope that this is an early reminder and Ministries do take note of these issues of alarming proportions.

regards
SC Vashishth
Advocate-Disability Rights

Avoid frivolous lawsuits, ministries advised iGovernment.in

Friday, November 13, 2009

Railways continues to discriminate against Persons with Disabilities

Dear Friends,

Laws fail to work when social attitudes and mindsets are rotten, diseased and highly biased towards persons with disabilities. Defect, abnormality, less fortunate, to be dealt with pity and not equal are what prevalent in our society still!

To top the list of such organisation is Indian Railways. They refuse to abide by law. Railways is a sea with so many divisions, branches, regions and due to lack of a uniform, transparent and effective system in place, rights of people get often abused at the whims and fancies of certain officials who continue to harbor such attitudes against the citizens with disabilities. This is precisely the reason that the Railways have not been able to fill up their backlog of jobs for disabled persons in a transparent manner despite Delhi High Court orders on a PIL filed by AICB, Delhi.

The present case is of Shri Jayanta Kumar Khamari, who wanted to join Railway Engineering Service and has been forcibly given Military Engineering Service. Result declared by Railways indicates his name on page 3 rank 38. Result 2007. He is still awaiting his choice posting even after two years of clearing the Indian Engineering Service. Reason- he doesn't have three fingers in the right hand!

Any physiotherapist/occupational therapist or orthopedic surgeon would opine that if one has thumb opposition available in the hand, majority of jobs requiring fine finger dexterity can be easily performed. Also in the present case, Jayanta functionally uses his left hand as efficiently as his right hand but Railway believes he can not work efficiently and his disability will affect his work. So they came up with a plea that they don't have any post identified for such candidate.

And mind you, the gentleman is working as Junior Engineer with CPWD for past several years with no adverse remarks on productivity due to disability!

High Court of Orissa has categorically expressed in its order, "We are of the view that the action of the Railway Board to allot the petitioner to Military Engineering Service under the Ministry of Defence against the earmarked vacancy for physically handicapped candidates on the plea that no post identified for such candidate was available in Railway Engineering Service is absolutely incorrect and unjustified. The Railway Board is required to act in terms of Section 33 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995"

Hope good sense of law and human rights will prevail and Railways will make itself more receptive to diversity (read) employees with Disabilities to be contributing members of their workforce.

warm regards

Subhash Chandra Vashishth
Advocate & Consultant -Disability Rights
0981125521, subhashvashishth@gmail.com

Click here to read from Source: Even Rahul Gandhi Failed Me

Jayanta Kumar Khamari, an Indian Engineering Service graduate, is fighting for a job in the Indian Railway Service of Engineering. He says he was assured by many leaders, including Gandhi, but the Railways denied him his choice as he doesn't have three fingers on his right hand

Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the most powerful family in the country, can give cold feet to his veteran political opponents. Yet, there are things which are beyond his reach too. Ensuring a job with the Indian Railways, for instance.

That too, despite a High Court order in support of the applicant.

Jayanta Kumar Khamari, from Bhubaneswar, met the Congress general secretary in hope that he will be able to get justice with the young leader's intervention. However, even after receiving assurances from Gandhi, the 35-year-old Indian Engineering Service graduate continues to work in the Military Engineering Service, despite achieving 35th rank in the merit list that qualifies him for the Indian Railway Service of Engineering (IRSE).

Handicap trouble

Even the Railways has no qualms about Khamari's qualification. The problem lies in his right hand that is devoid of any fingers except for the thumb. Khamari suffered from a consumption disease in his childhood, thereby causing the amputation of four fingers in his right hand.

However, Khamari turned ambidextrous and is now able to use his left hand as efficiently as his right. But, the Railways believes the disability could become a hurdle in his way of achieving success as an engineer and therefore, he was refused his preferred choice of service.

"I appeared before the medical board, which recommended me for field work after examining my hand. The Railway Board was the nodal authority for appointment and it did not take up my case, as per my choice for the Indian Railway Service of Engineers," Khamari said.

For the last two years, Khamari has been waging a pitched battle against the alleged discrimination against him.

Even ten years of Khamari's experience as a junior engineer with the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) failed to convince the bosses at the Railway Board to allow him to achieve what he truly deserved.

In the hope that the 'most powerful leader in the ruling party' (Rahul Gandhi) will ensure his choice of job, Khamari met him in August last year. But contrary to his belief in the omnipotence of the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family, nothing happened.

Not only Gandhi, many others, including the Minister of State for Railways Naranbhai Rathwa, did not pursue Khamari's case.

"I met the chairman and secretary of the Railway Board. I also met Sanjay Mitra, joint secretary and Satyanarayan Sahu, director at the Prime Minister's Office but even they could not help me," Khamari told MiD DAY.

In court

The young engineer, however, did not lose hope and moved court against the alleged discrimination against his disability by the Railways. He lost in the lower courts, initially, yet continued his battle.

Now, Khamari has the backing of a favourable order by the Orissa High Court and an equally damning assessment of the discrimination by the Railways from the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD).


Long fight


Apart from a frustrating wait for what he deserved, Khamari had to face several other hardships to shuttle between Bhubaneswar and Delhi.

"When my case was pending with the CCPD, I stayed in Delhi for almost two months. During that period, almost for a month, I stayed at Jagannath temple, near IIT. And then with my friends in Jia Sarai, Katwaria Sarai and Ber Sarai," said Khamari. But, now with the High Court by his side, it seems that Khamari has finally got his 'hand of God'.

What the law says

Section 33 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 provides that the appropriate government in every establishment shall appoint such percentage of vacancies not less than three per cent for persons or class of persons with disability of which one per cent shall be reserved for the persons suffering from:
i. Blindness or low vision
ii. Hearing impairment
iii. Locomotor disability or cerebral palsy, in the posts identified for each disability.

The proviso to Section 33 of the Act states the appropriate government body is at liberty to exempt any establishment from the provisions of this section by notification. From the order of the Chief Commissioner it appears there is no notification exempting the Railway from the purview of Section 33 of the Act.

The High Court said...

"We are of the view that the action of the Railway Board to allot the petitioner to Military Engineering Service under the Ministry of Defence against the earmarked vacancy for physically handicapped candidates on the plea that no post identified for such candidate was available in Railway Engineering Service is absolutely incorrect and unjustified. The Railway Board is required to act in terms of Section 33 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. Accordingly, we direct the Railway Board to issue necessary orders in favour of the petitioner in terms of the order of the Chief Commissioner within a period of two months from the date of receipt of this order." Justices BP Ray and BP Das, September 17, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Delhi High Court gets tough on Railways for failing to fill up the reserved seats of Disabled

Dear Friends,

An update on the case being argued currently by Mr. Mani, my colleage at AICB's Advocacy Committee which incidently I had filed few years back!

The High Court is taking the matter seriously as it is seized with the matter for a long time now. I have a fear- a genuine fear! The recruiting organisations often count the candidates on reserved seats even if they clear on their own merit thereby limiting the recruitment prospects. Thus the reservation policy often works counter-productive.

Till today, I have not come across any case where the person even though higher in the merit and selected in Disabled Quota ever went and challenged as to why he was selected in reserved quota and not on his own merit - for his job is done and he doesn't want to antagonise the employer.

Others never come to know about the waiting list unless they apply for it under RTI. Thus many who genuinely need that reservation to find an employment never get that.

Another area of concern is counting an old employee who was recruited as non-disabled but acquired disability during his service, in disability quota . This also further restricts the quota and doesn't give clear picture of the implementation of the reservation policy of the employer. Well, this needs some serious cogitation!

regards

Subhash Chandra Vashishth
09811125521

Here is the press release :

New Delhi, Monday, 6th April 2009:

While hearing a petition filed by AllIndia Confederation of the Blind relating to violation of persons withdisabilities Act by the Indian Railways, a division bench of the Delhi High Court headed by Justice A. P. Shah (Chief Justice) sharply criticized the railways for not adhering to the court orders of 20th January 2009 directing it to maintain a roster with regard to appointments of disabled persons in Railways.

Earlier, a joint report worked out by the petitioner and the respondent asper the directions of the Delhi High Court had stated that there was awhopping backlog to the extent of 4254 vacancies on which disabled persons should have been appointed as per the persons with disabilities Act, but therailways did not adhere to the provisions of this Act.

Mr. Rajan Mani, counsel for the petitioner, All India Confederation of the Blind, argued that maintaining a roster was the first step towards ensuring reservations for disabled persons. ”Clearly, the Railways is not serious about fulfilling its statutory obligations,” he argued.

The honuorable Chief Justice observed that non compliance of court ordersamounted to contempt of the Court. He directed that Secretary Railways /Member (staff recruitments) be present in person on Monday 13th April 2009.The court also directed Railways to start special recruitment drive toappoint disabled persons by utilizing at least 50% of the available vacancies for this purpose. In a landmark order the court also directed therailways that no recruitment will take place unless provision is made tofill up 4254 vacancies reserved for disabled persons.