This article is written by Kush Kalra.
The Indian Railways has been instrumental in ushering a new era in the sphere of mass urban transportation in India. Indian railways has been treated as a national common carrier transporting passengers as well as goods over its vast network. The Indian Railways has 114,500 kilometers (71,147 miles) of total track over a route of 65,000 kilometers (40,389 miles) and 7,500 stations. It has the world’s fourth largest railway network after those of the United States, Russia and China.
It carries over 30 million passengers and 2.8 million tons of freight daily. It is the world’s fourth largest commercial or utility employer, by number of employees, with over 1.4 million employees. In terms of rolling stock, IR owns over 240,000 (freight) wagons, 60,000 coaches and 9,000 locomotives. The Indian Railways is a cheap and affordable means of transportation and has played a crucial role in social and economic development of the Country.
Railways are duty bound to secure the right to security of each and every individual in our country. Despite of that the Indian railways have failed to provide the following safety and security measures:
- Safety Measures:
- Anti-Collusion Devices (ACD): ACD is a global positioning system (GPS) based system developed by Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL), aimed to prevent train collisions at higher speeds by actuation of automatic application of train brakes in collusion like situations. Anti-collusion Device has been installed only in Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).
- Alcohol Detection Devices: Alcohol Detection Devices are required at railway stations to detect the drunk people entering the stations. As section 145 of the Railway Act, 1989 provides punishment for drunkenness at railway stations. This particular section cannot be enforced until the railway police/security people are equipped with alcohol checking devices.
- Emergency Telephone at platforms from where a passenger can directly call the station control room in case of emergency. This is required because most of the time passengers are in grave/urgent situations and they require urgent help and presently most stations in India are not equipped with emergency telephones at the railway stations.
- Security Measures:
- Scanning Machines: Scanning Machines are necessary to check the luggage of passengers at the railway stations. The security of the railway system can’t be made full proof until passengers’ belongings are properly scanned at the entrance points of railway stations. Most of the stations in India are not equipped with the scanning machines to check the belongings of passengers which is a major security lapse.
- CCTV Cameras: CCTV cameras ensure the smooth functioning of any railway station and helps in monitoring and tracking of any illegal activity.
- Metal Detector Doors and Handheld Metal Detectors are necessary to make the travel of every commuter safe so that no unscrupulous elements enter the station with any prohibited or dangerous material.
The above-mentioned safety and security measures are directly related to protection of the precious life of commuters of Indian Railways.
Railways have manifestly failed to discharge their statutory and constitutional obligations. That right to security of an individual is very much a facet of right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The time has come to recognize the right to security of an individual as a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
Railways are not only duty bound to secure the right to security of each and every individual in our country but also to ensure that the resources of the country are utilized for this purpose. Article 39(b) of the Constitution of India mandates such sub-servants of common goods through use of resources of the country. The Indian railways have only installed the Anti-Collusion Devices at Northeast Frontier railway and no further installations of Anti-Collusion Devices is done which is a proof that safety of commuters/ passengers at Indian railways is at stake.
More than 425 innocent people died in the last 10 years due to the collusion of trains in our Country failing to equip the railways with the ACD, a global positioning system (GPS) based system which prevents train collisions at higher speeds by actuation of automatic application of train brakes in collusion like situations.
Indian Railways are fully aware of the need and requirement of scanning machines to check the belongings of commuters but till date most of the railway stations don’t have scanning machines when at a time most of the world is under the threat of terrorism.
The Indian Railways by not checking the passenger belongings at railway stations are playing with the life of innocent commuters/ passengers. Interestingly some safety and security measures are already existing in some Railway Stations while being completely absent from the others. Railways 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.
Indian Railways have failed to comply with the constitutional obligation to provide basic adequate safety and security measures to the commuters of Indian Railways. Alcohol checking devices are very much necessary on Indian railway stations to check the unidentified drunk people and unscrupulous elements entering the railway stations and to make sure commuters don’t feel unsafe at railways stations.
The commuters of Indian Railways are entitled to safe, sufficient, affordable and accessible journeys. Access to scanning machines, alcohol detection devices and CCTV cameras and anti-Collusion machines should no longer be seen as a service, but as Human Rights, guaranteed to each and every person in India. However, the commuters of Indian Railways are deprived of their basic rights of safe and secured journey.
Railways have further failed to adhere to safety and security standards which are essential in a country like India to ensure safety and security to the people of the country. They are fully aware of the need and requirement to provide safety and security features at Railway Stations in the wake of terrorist attacks worldwide and before any potential terror attack the perpetrators are to identify Railway Stations with weak security measures which will become sitting ducks for such attacks.
The railways Authorities failed to improve its safety and security mechanisms despite the fact that the Indian Railways having the vast network and crossed through the stations which are infested with the Naxalist and threat to the life of the innocent commuters/ passengers.
Over the years the Indian Railways has augmented its facilities and features both in the Railway Stations as well as on its trains. The Indian Railways has evolved over the past few decades as a more passenger friendly and comfort-oriented enterprise. The Railway Stations are now equipped with state-of-the-art amenities and the trains are provided with modern facilities and world class features. On the other hand, the Railways have failed to improve its safety and security mechanisms commensurate with providing amenities to its passengers.
Railways have conducted safety audit at railway stations in Delhi and found that most stations in Delhi are unsafe as they don’t have proper safety and security measures i.e. scanning devices, CCTV cameras facilities, Anti-Collusion devices, alcohol checking devices, telephones to contact control room in case of emergency and metal detector doors and handheld devices respectively.
Section 145(a) of Railways Act, 1989 explicitly bans commuting in the state of intoxication, however, respondents are themselves deprived of alcohol checking devices to detect the state of intoxication in a commuter. The railway authorities must be equipped with alcohol detection devices to test the state of intoxication and restrict such a person from commuting in the railways.
The Constitution of India guarantees equal protection to all and forbids the state from depriving anybody’s life and personal liberty without procedure established by law. Social justice which is the base of the Indian Constitution has its overtones in the criminal justice system too. The preamble of Indian Constitution itself makes it clear that there is equality among all the citizens of India and that is the reason all persons are equal before the law including law makers and followers of the same law.
Every society has different norms to protect the human life and dignity of individuals. The right to life denotes the significance of human existence for this reason. It is widely called the highest fundamental rights. Our Indian Constitution ensures in part III the fundamental rights which are designed to protect and preserve the basic rights of individuals from the violation of right to life with human dignity. The concept of right to life and liberty was enriched in Article 21 of the Constitution of India, being fundamental right guaranteed to the citizens and non-citizens of India. The main intention of Constitution framers is to promote individual welfare as well as social welfare. Right to life is the most precious fundamental right amongst all human rights. Undoubtedly its scope and applicability and with the advent of their modern strides in jurisprudence with revolutionary pronouncement by the various courts have assumed wider connotations and amplifications. Under this noble concept, every citizen has been guaranteed the right to life and liberty. Article 21 imposes an obligation on the state to safeguard the right to life of every person and preservation of human life is thus of paramount importance. The concept of dignity under the Indian Constitution is significant any form of violence against women is violation of the fundamental right to live with human dignified life. The state has a primary duty to protect the right to live with human dignity as fundamental rights of each citizen. The Constitution has not given any specific provision about human dignity. Article 21 of Constitution of India which grants the right to life has wider meaning which includes the right to life with human dignity. It is a fundamental right without which we cannot live as human beings and includes all those aspects of life which go to make a man’s life meaningful. Life is not simply a physical act of breathing, it does not mean merely animal existence; it has a much wider meaning which includes the right to live with human dignity.
The only way to avoid loss of human life is to ensure that adequate safety and security measures are implemented in Railway Stations all over the country to prevent the occurrence of any mis-adventure through terror attacks. Right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India is an established basic human right which is guaranteed to each and every person in India. The most significant way to protect life is to secure the environment around an individual by providing state of the art safety and security measures available. The right to security of an individual is very much a facet of right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The time has come to recognize the right to security of an individual as a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
Moreover, safety and security measures in the form of Anti-Collusion devices, alcohol checking devices, telephones at railways platforms to be used by passengers to connect to control room, CCTV cameras at railway stations, scanning devices and metal doors and handheld detectors respectively are equally important to secure the safety of passengers commuting through trains and stations. The right to safety is also a means to secure protection of human rights and prevention of accidents and mishaps. The right to safety is also required to be guaranteed and as a fundamental right being a facet of right to life enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
It is extremely important to note that over the years the Indian Railways has augmented its facilities and features both in the Railway Stations as well as on its trains. The Indian Railways has evolved over the past few decades as a more passenger friendly and comfort oriented enterprise. The Railway Stations are now equipped with state-of-the-art amenities and the trains are provided with modern facilities and world class features. On the other hand, the Railways has failed to improve upon its safety and security mechanisms commensurate with providing amenities to its passengers.
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