(Prayer: Writ Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for the issuance of a WRIT OF MANDAMUS directing the respondents to give proper protection to the railway passengers, their properties and all Railway Stations by keeping tight security and by installing CCTV cameras in all Railway Stations and Railway Police should monitor the movements of suspects in every Railway Station, by considering the petitioner's representation dated 12.05.2014.)
M.V. Muralidaran, J
1. The petitioner has come forward with this writ petition as Public Interest Litigation seeking a prayer for the issuance of a Writ of Mandamus directing the respondents to give proper protection to the railway passengers, their properties and all Railway Stations by keeping tight security and by installing CCTV cameras in all Railway Stations and Railway Police should monitor the movements of suspects in every Railway Station, by considering the petitioner's representation, dated 12.05.2014.
2. The case of the petitioner is that the petitioner is the Managing Trustee, Centre for Public Interest Litigation. The object of the trust is that the trust will strive to achieve the following objectives to all irrespective of, caste, creed, religion, area, sex, etc. Receiving complaints on violation of Fundamental Rights from public and also news about Fundamental Rights violation knowing from T.V., Daily Newspapers and monitor the areas about health problem where thickly populated. The petitioner trust also encourage the people to know about Fundamental Rights about violations and forwarding the findings and report to Higher Officials in this regard to take action. The petitioner trust also states that if no action has been taken by the authorities, the trust will file appropriate Public Interest Litigation Petitions before this Court as well as before the Hon'ble Supreme Court for getting remedy to the victims.
3. This writ petition is filed seeking a direction to the respondents to take strict action on the offenders and to give protection round the clock to all Railway property and Railway passengers. The petitioner further stated that the petitioner trust is doing many free social services to the poor and suppressed people by way of teaching Human Rights and taking steps to the downtrodden from the violators of Human Rights..
4. It is the further case of the petitioner that he read news in all newspapers and Television regarding Chain Snatching, Robbery, Lootings and Bomb Explosions in Railway Station and moving trains every day. For example, as he has given a case in respect of a lady stating that a lady and her mentally retarded daughter came to Madurai from Ilanji Village near Tenkasi, Tirunelveli District for medical treatment in Madurai Rajaji Hospital. After taking medical treatment, they went to Madurai Railway Station to board Shengottai Passenger Train. They were waiting for that train and stayed at first platform passengers' waiting hall of Madurai Railway Station. While being so, some persons approached the mother and daughter and gave sedative substance mixed in tea to them. After drinking the tea, the mother became unconscious. The offenders took the young girl and went unknown place and raped her and then brought her to Madurai Railway Station. The said news was reported in all newspapers and TV Channels. But due to the lack of police security in Madurai Railway Station to the passengers, that occurrence was taken place.
5. The petitioner also come forward by saying another incident that on 27.04.2010 some anti-social elements halted the train in Kaduvalli village near Dharmapurai and robbed 17 sovereigns of gold ornaments from Railway passengers due to insufficiency of protection given to the passengers. Further it is stated that on 02.05.2014 some robbers entered into a Ladies compartment in Sangagiri near Salem District and robbed 10 sovereigns of gold chain from a woman passenger. Since there is no proper police protection to the passengers, that occurrence had been occurred. The petitioner further cited one another incident that on 01.05.2014 there was a bomb explosion in Chennai Central Railway Station in which a young woman software Engineer was killed on the spot. It is clearly shows that there is no proper police protection to the passengers in all Railway Stations in Tamil Nadu.
6. The petitioner also come forward by saying that for the past some years some persons are doing eve teasing and giving sedative substances to some Railway women passengers and stole the passengers's property and raping them. Such types of occurrence are increasing day by day. The respondents are not taking any action on these occurrence. Due to lack of protection by the appropriate police authority, namely, the Railway Police, such occurrence has been continuing daily. If such type of offences continues, the women passengers' safety and protection would become a question mark. In this regard, on 12.05.2014, the petitioner sent a detailed representation to the respondents with a request to take appropriate action. Till date, no action has been taken. Hence, the petitioner filed this writ petition as Public Interest Litigation with the relief as stated supra.
7. A counter affidavit has been filed by respondents 2 and 3, wherein it has been stated that a similar writ petition in W.P(MD)No.4146 of 2013 was filed by the petitioner before this Court praying to direct the respondents to give proper protection to the railway passengers and not to allow unauthorized persons to sell snacks and other eatable items inside the trains and platforms and to formulate strict guidelines and direct all the railway officials to follow the same with care and caution and the said writ petition was dismissed by this Court on 04.04.2013.
8. The respondents vehemently opposed by saying that no chain snatching, robbery, lootings and bomb explosions in Railway Stations and in moving trains everyday since proper and adequate security is being provided to the passengers at Madurai Railway Station and other places. Maintenance of Law and Order and investigation into crime punishable under Indian Penal Code is taken care of by the Railway Police, which is a wing of the State Police and functions under the respective State Government to monitor the Law and Order situation in Railway areas and trains besides taking effective steps to prevent commission of major crimes.
9. It is further stated in the counter affidavit that the Railway Protection Force renders all possible assistance within its scope of functioning in ensuring the safety and security of rail passengers and railway properties in co-ordination with the State Railway Police and insofar as Railway Protection Force is concerned, it is functioning under the Ministry of Railways and its basic duty is to protect the Railway Property and to investigate cases pertaining to Railway property under the provisions of Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act. The RPF has also been entrusted with the additional responsibility of providing security to the passengers as per the RPF Act and RPF is empowered to prosecute offenders for minor offences under Railways Act, which affects passenger security and running of trains such as unauthorized howking, nuisance, gents travelling in ladies coaches etc. and by doing so RPF provides assistance to Railway Police in ensuring security to passengers. In addition to protecting to Railway properties, RPF also ensures the safety of the passengers.
9. It is further stated in the counter affidavit that the averment about insufficiency of protection to the passengers is denied. Railway Protection Force is taking every steps within its power to effectively ensure the safety of the travelling public and Railway properties. It is also submitted by the respondents that Railways and Railway Police Force are taking several measures to protect Railway passengers in the best manner possible with the available resources in co-ordination with Railway police.
10. It is further stated that Railway Protection Force has made the following security arrangements at Chennai Central Station in co-ordination with State Police and the same are as under:
i. A Bomb Detection Squad at Chennai Central is working round the clock.
ii. The staff are performing duties like conducting regular rake checks and anti-sabotage check at station, trains and its surrounding premises daily.
iii. Sniffer dogs from Kennel/Perambur, Chennai are used to conduct anti sabotage checks at Chennai Central Station daily.
iv. Entry and Exit points are manned by RPF and GRP round the clock.
v. Luggage Scanners are in use to check passengers baggage randomly.
vi. Armed RPF Personnel are deployed at Chennai Central Station.
vii. Random checks of parcels are conducted by Bomb Detection Squad and Dog Squad at important parcel offices.
viii. Baggage of passengers deposited in the Clock Room at Chennai Central are scanned and accepted only after pasting Checked Stickers.
iv Frequent announcements are made through Public Address System and by way of printed pamphlets to passengers advising them of proper precautions.
x. A CCTV Control Room keeps surveillance over various part of the stations and movement of people.
11. When the respondents denied the averment of giving seductive substances to some women passengers to steal their property or raping them and during the period 2001, 2012, and 2013 no such incident of rape has occurred in train or in railway premises in Tamil Nadu and in regarding to unauthorized vending in trains instructions are already in vague from Railway Board to discourage the same and the Railway Protection Force conduct regular drives against unauthorized vending in train and the defaulter's apprehended are prosecuted under the relevant provisions of Railway Act and during the year 2013 and 2014 upto May 24461 and 11183 defaulters were apprehended and prosecuted realizing a fine of Rs.81,95,748/1 and Rs.83,32,180/- respectively and authorized vendors are issued with I.D Cards by the licenses and counter signed by Railway officials and Special monitoring of action against unauthorized vending is being done at appropriate level in order to eradicate unauthorized vending by forming special teams.
12. The respondents also stated in the counter affidavit that providing women constables in every coach of a train to give protection to passengers is neither practical nor feasible as suggested by the petitioner and the Railway Protection Force and State Railway Police strength is already utillized to safeguard and protect the interest of Railway passengers. The respondents also stated that following steps have been taken to ensure safety and security of Railway passengers especially women passengers.
(i) On an average, 108 pairs of Mail/Express train (including daily and non-daily), 195 passenger Trains, 788 EMU, MEMU, DEMU trains are running daily in the State of Tamil Nadu.
(ii) EMU Lady Special Trains running over Chennai Division are escorted by RPF women Squad called Sakthi Padai .
(iii) Women RPF Helpline is also functioning in Chennai Division exclusively for this purpose with BSNL phone No.044-25353999.
(iv) To facilitate the rail passengers, helpline numbers of GRP/Tamil Nadu (9962500500) and Kerala (9846200100) are also printed on the reserved tickets.
(v) Facility has been provided to the passengers including ladies to lodge complaint in the form of SMS to the above helpline numbers (Kerala) and complaints can also be mailed to [email protected] These complaints are dealt with due care ensuring regular monitoring and follow up action.
(vi) Stickers with RPF/GRP helpline telephone numbers viz., RPF/HQrs/Zonal Security Control Room No.044-25359261, Divisional Headquarters, Chennai 044-25353999, Trichy 431-2460454, Madurai 0452-2308042, Salem 427-2331809, Trivandrum RPF helpline- 9995040000 and Palghat RPF Helpline 491-2553636, GRP/Tamil Nadu Helpline 09962500500 and GRP/Kerala Helpline 09846200100 are pasted in trains and at conspicuous places at stations to facilitate the passengers to lodge complaints.
(vii) As per the Railway Board directions, the Security Helpline No.1322 is being installed at all the divisions of Southern Railway i.e., Chennai,Tiruchirappalli, Madurai, Salem, Trivandrum and in Palghat Division.
(viii) Staff on train escort duty are travelling in the coaches adjacent to the ladies coach to provide security to the lady passengers. The escorts are attending the ladies compartment during the course of its halts in the mid section/stations.
(ix) Intensive drives are conducted regularly against male persons travelling in ladies coaches and the drunken passengers in trains.
(x) Quick Response Team, keep surveillance on the criminalsin trains/stations to prevent crime against women passengers.
(xi) RPF Crime Prevention and Detection Squads and special teams are formed to keep surveillance against known criminals in trains/stations.
(xii) High profile presence of RPF and GRP at major station platforms are ensured to install a sense of fear among anti-social elements and sense of confidence among travelling public.
(xiii) A joint operation scheme by RPF with GRP/Tamil Nadu in the name of Protecting Hands has been introduced at Chennai, to take swift action on the calls received in Help lines and RPF and GRP.
(xiv) CCTVs are installed in important (23) stations/junctions such as Chennai Central, Chennai Egmore, Chennai Beach, Moore Market Complex,Suburban Terminal, Mambalam, Basin Bridge, Arakkonam, Katpadi, Tiruvallur, Tambaram, Tiruchirappalli, Madurai, Dindigual, Tirunelveli, Trivandrum, Ernakuklam Junction, Quilon, Trichur, Calicut, Mangalore, Coimbatore, Salem, Tripur to keep watch over the movements of any suspicious persons in station premises. Procurement of the same is in progress for Nagercoil Junction, Kottayam, Kochuveli and Ernakulam North stations.
(xv) Decoy checks are conducted regularly, to create awareness among travelling public.
(xvi) Regular co-ordination meeting with GRP counterparts are held at all level to tackle the passenger related offences.
13. Heard Mr. K.K.Ramesh, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner as well as Mr.S.Manohar, learned counsel appearing for the respondents 2 and 3 and Mr.M.Govindan, learned Special Government Pleader appearing for the respondents 4 and 5.
14. On perusal of the records and counter affidavit filed by the respondents, we came to understand that the respondents in their counter at paragraphs 6 and 8 very clearly stated that the Railway Protection Force made the security arrangements at Chennai Central Station in co-ordination with State Police and the respondents are also taking steps to ensure safety and security of Railway passengers especially women passengers stated in paragraph 8 of the counter affidavit is agreeable one and we accept the safety measures to be taken by the respondents, as stated in the counter affidavit.
15. Recording the submission of the respondents, this Court directs the Railway authority to take immediate and effective steps to ensure the safety and security of Railway Passengers especially women passengers, which they are undertaken in their counter in paragraphs 6 and 8, and we will express our opinion that suppose the incidents took place in various places, particularly, an unmarried lady, namely, Swathy was murdered in the public place, namely, Numgambakkam Railway Station, this Court expects the Railway Authorities to ensure their speedy action as they undertaken in their counter and install the CCTVs in all Railway Station in all over Tamil Nadu, which is very much essential for the safety and security of the Railway passengers particularly women passengers.
16. Therefore, recording the undertaking and the steps taken by the Railway Police for the safety and security of the Railway passengers especially women passengers, this writ petition is closed. No costs. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petitions are also closed.