NEW DELHI: A Delhi Court on Friday expressed its concern over the issue of overcrowding in public transport and also sought a report from the Union Ministry of road, Transport and Highways, the Transport department of Delhi Government and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).
Metropolitan Magistrate Karan Chaudhary sought a report from the authorities within a month.
He sent a copy of his order to the Prime Minister, Ministry of road, Transport and Highways, Delhi Transport Minister, MD of DMRC, MD and CEO of Delhi integrated multi-model transit system (DIMTS) and Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Delhi Police.
"Let the report be called from the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways, Department of Transport, Government of NCT Delhi, Managing Director, DMRC Ltd regarding measures to check/address overcrowding issues in and out of Delhi Metro e.g. at metro station/platforms, permitted seating and standing passenger capacity inside Delhi Metro and extant policy in that regards, measures to make travel in Delhi Metro more accessible, safe and comfortable, and Special CP (Traffic), PHQ, Delhi within one month from receipt of this order," the court said.
While acquitting one Mohd Ayub of the charges of using criminal physical force in the victim, raised the issue of overcrowding.
The court said that the prosecution has failed to bring on record any cogent evidence in order to prove the commission of and guilt of the accused for an offence under sections 352/506 IPC beyond a reasonable doubt, thus, entitling the accused to benefit of the doubt and acquittal.
While expressing its concern the court said, "This court is pained to note the issue of over-crowding in public transportation including public passenger buses. Public transportation including passenger buses inter-alia must be safe, comfortable and accessible."
Despite the law, overcrowding is quite ubiquitous in public transportation including public passenger buses. Overcrowding has associated hazards with it. It can besides the discomfort to passengers, impact the roadworthiness of vehicle concerned and can be the cause of road traffic accidents as it makes the vehicle difficult to control/drive and breaking system is adversely affected, the court observed.
Crowded spaces on board of vehicle/public passenger bus can create feelings of anxiety, unsafety and insecurity. Hence, it creates barrier to access to public buses especially to disabled persons, women (including pregnant women), children and senior citizens, it added.
The court called overcrowding a recipe for disaster and highlighted the issue of accessibility and safety. It said, "If a healthy adult finds it difficult to board, travel and deboard through public buses, then what will be the situation in regards to disabled persons, women, children and senior citizens."
The court said that nation-building is a constitutional mandate for the state and its apparatus; and is also constitutional, solemn and pious responsibility of every citizen.
"In the present age of Amrit Kaal and Vande Bharat express, with the vision of developed India in eyes, it is incumbent upon the state, to ensure that public transportation including public buses are safe, comfortable and accessible and equipped with modern technologies, utilising internet of things, at par with any other modern nation," it added.
The court also referred to the recent media report on the Chief Justice of India stressing serving common people as the top priority ('Citizens my priority...').
It said that steps must be taken to remove multiple barriers to access to public transportation like passenger buses and strengthen public trust in public transportation as an accessible, safe and comfortable form of transportation.
The court made these observations in the case filed by Manoj Kumar Sharma who had alleged that on March 29, 2014, at about 9:50 am near Sarita Vihar area accused Md Ayub Khan used criminal force or assaulted him while he wanted to deboard the bus at his destination and criminally intimidated him with injury to him.