PIL filed before Supreme Court seeking probe into Balasore Train Accident

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The petition submits that while the railway authorities have initiated a high-level probe into the train crash, such probes have not yielded substantive results in the past and thus arises the need of judicial probe under the supervision of the Supreme Court to scrutinise, evaluate and bring out the deep cause of gross negligence with the attempt of improving the safety mechanism of such primary transport in India.

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed before the Supreme Court of India seeking setting up of an Enquiry Commission headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court to probe into the Odisha Train Accident that happened on 2nd June 2023 and reach the root cause of the accident. It is further sought that the commission submit its report within two months.

Citing public safety, it has been sought that an Expert Commission headed by retired Judge of the Supreme Court consisting of technical members be set up immediately to analyze and review the current risk and safety parameters in the railway system and to suggest systematic safety modifications for strengthening railway safety mechanism.

"Issue of guidelines/directions for the implementation of Automatic Train Protection (ATP) System called KAVACH Protection System in Indian Railways with immediate effect to ensure public safety", the plea also seeks.

Filed by Advocate Vishal Tiwari, the plea submits that after the disastrous derailment of the Coromandel express resulting in death of about 288 people and injury of more than 900 people, this issue needs to be mentioned with greater concern and emphasis since in the last few decades India has seen a series of train collisions and derailments causing severe sufferance to people of our country in the form of deaths and injuries of permanent nature.

Stating that on 23 March 2022, the Ministry of Railways had announced a significant step towards enhancing the safety of train operations in India with the development of the indigenous Automatic Train Protection (ATP) System called KAVACH, the plea submits,

"The enforcement of safety mechanism of such train protection system is still not implemented on practical grounds as it has been clearly proven that the KAVACH which is an Automatic Train Protection System was still not applied in Speedy manner and such is still in the process of installing Kavach across the network."

The petition adds that the key features of the KAVACH system include automatic brake application in case the locomotive pilot fails to act, the provision of line-side signal display in the cabin for improved visibility in foggy conditions and at higher speeds, continuous updating of movement authority, automatic whistling at level crossings, collision avoidance through direct loco-to-loco communication, and the inclusion of an SOS feature to control trains in emergency situations.

In this backdrop, it is argued that this system is the need of the hour and if it was implemented in due time, such untoward and unwanted accident could have been avoided.

Case Title: Vishal Tiwari vs. Union of India and Anr.