Madras HC dismisses case for increasing space in first class compartment of suburban trains

The Madras High Court on Tuesday dismissed a public interest litigation petition filed by a lawyer seeking a direction to Southern Railway to increase the seating as well as standing capacity in the first class compartment of pink colour coaches, introduced in July 2018, in Electric Multiple Units operated between Chennai Beach and Chengalpet sector.

Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and N. Seshasayee refused to issue such a direction after the standing counsel for Southern Railway P.T. Ramkumar told the Division Bench that the Supreme Court, in more than one verdict, had held that it was not for the judiciary to interfere in matters that were within the administrative domain of the Ministry of Railways.

The counsel said, even as recently as on December 4, 2018, a three-judge Bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph had held that the High Court of Uttarakhand had exceeded its jurisdiction by compelling the Indian Railways to file an affidavit on changing train timings and providing new service.

“It is our considered view that matters of train timings and providing new train connectivity between two locations are essentially matters of policy to be decided by the competent authority on a consideration of host or relevant facts and circumstances and further that such matters are not appropriate for adjudication in a PIL,” the Bench had observed.

After recording the submissions made by the counsel, the Bench led by Justice Sathyanarayanan dismissed the present PIL petition preferred by advocate R. Chandrasekaran who complained that the availability of space in the first class compartment of the pink colour coaches in the suburban trains was less than the space available in other compartments.

He also claimed that those who pay more for the first class compartment were unable to travel in peace due to the menace of unauthorised travel by other passengers. He suggested that a reward scheme be introduced for the ticket checking staff in order to put an end to those who travel in first class compartments without paying the requisite charges.

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