A public interest litigation (PIL) has been lodged in the Supreme Court, urging the Central Government to establish an inquiry commission led by a retired judge from the apex court to investigate the cause of the train accident in Odisha’s Balasore district, which claimed the lives of 275 people.
Advocate Vishal Tiwari filed the plea, also seeking immediate directions for the creation of an expert commission, headed by a retired judge from the apex court and comprising technical experts, to assess and review the risk and safety parameters in the railway system. The commission would be tasked with suggesting systematic safety enhancements to strengthen railway safety mechanisms and presenting its findings to the court.
The plea argued that the failure to promptly implement the Kavach system has resulted in significant loss of life and damage to public property, implying a direct liability of gross negligence and breach of duty of care by the authorities concerned.
According to the plea, the inquiry commission, chaired by a retired judge from the apex court, should conclude its investigation within two months, examining the root cause of the accident and submitting its report to the Supreme Court. The PIL also called for the issuance of guidelines mandating the implementation of the Automatic Train Protection (ATP) System Kavach in Indian Railways with immediate effect.
Tiwari, in his plea, stressed the need for specific directions from the government to enforce railway accident prevention measures and strengthen them to prevent future accidents, thus safeguarding the fundamental right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Highlighting train accidents that have occurred in the country over the past three decades, the petitioner argued that authorities have been slow in providing redress and developing a safety enforcement mechanism to mitigate collisions and accidents.
“The implementation of safety measures for train protection systems is still lacking on the ground throughout the country, as it has been clearly demonstrated that Kavach, an Automatic Train Protection System, was not yet applied on this route,” stated the PIL.
The plea emphasized the urgent need to install the Kavach protection system without delay, stating that train operations should not continue without it.
The train collision involved the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express and Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express, which were carrying approximately 2,500 passengers, as well as a goods train. The accident occurred near the Bahanaga Bazar station in Balasore around 7 pm on Friday.
-With Agency Inputs