Madras high court directs Southern Railway to install CCTV cameras in trains

Observing that police officials committing act of sexual harassment against women in running trains cannot be spared, the Madras high court on Thursday directed Southern Railway to install CCTV cameras in train coaches for the safety of woman passengers.

The court issued the direction while rejecting a petition filed by a dismissed police constable, A Vinoth. Vinoth was recruited as a Grade-II police constable under sports quota in 2008. He was deputed to the Railway Police in Trichy.

He was deputed to perform patrol duty on the Tuticorin – Chennai Pearl City Express train on December 29, 2014 along with a woman constable, Amsavalli. A passenger named Selvi, who travelled in S6 coach, submitted a complaint to the Government Railway Police, Tambaram, Chennai, stating that on December 29 when she was travelling in the train, the petitioner asked her cellphone number and talked to her saying that she looked pretty.

On receipt of the complaint, the authorities concerned placed the petitioner under suspension and conducted an inquiry. The departmental disciplinary proceedings ended with an order of dismissal from service on April 15, 2015.

When the petitioner preferred an appeal before general manager of Southern Railway, it was rejected. Hence, the petitioner moved the high court in 2015. The additional government pleader submitted that the woman constable, Amsavalli, had stated that the petitioner had talked to the complainant in an indecent manner in an inebriated mood.

Justice S M Subramaniam observed, “The state must provide adequate protection and ensure that the woman passengers, who are travelling lonely during odd hours, are to be protected by issuing certain guidelines to the police officials, who all are on duty in trains.”

“No leniency or misplaced sympathy can be shown in respect of such offences in a running train against woman passengers. In a running train, these women passengers are helpless. The police officials on duty are carrying arms and even the co-passengers cannot come to the rescue of such women,” observed the judge.
Hence, the judge suo motu impleaded the general manager of Southern Railway and directed to conduct a survey with the assistance of the experts and install CCTV cameras in railway coaches and compartments for the purpose of providing adequate safety and security to woman passengers, old age passengers and children.

The judge directed the Southern Railway to formulate the improvised guidelines to meet out the current day circumstances, to be followed by the security officials in running trains. The judge confirmed the order of dismissal and rejected the plea of the petitioner.

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