Petition seeking additional stop for Vande Bharat train in Kerala filed in Supreme Court

A Special Leave Petition (SLP) has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking direction to the Southern Railways to permit a stop for 'Vande Bharat’ train service at Tirur Railway Station in Malappuram district of Kerala.

Filed by Advocate P.T. Sheejish through Advocate Sriram P, the petition has challenged the Kerala High Court order of April 28, which dismissed the plea on the grounds that there was no public interest espoused in the writ petition, and that providing stops for a train was a matter that had to be determined by the Railways, and that no person had a vested right to demand the same.

The SLP contended that as per the 2011 Census Report, Malappuram district was one of the most densely populated districts of Kerala, with a significant number of people depending on the train service for their travel purpose. The denial of a railway stop there would amount to absolute ignorance and hindrance of effective transport facilities to the entire people of the district, it added.

The petitioner contended that as per the first schedules of train stops initially announced by the Indian railway, Tirur Railway Station was allotted a stop on behalf of Malappuram District, but was subsequently called back by the Indian Railways, and another railway station namely Shornur in Palakkad district was allotted in its place. He alleged that the said call back was due to political reasons and thus, was unfair.

As per the plea, Shornur Railway Station was roughly 56 km from Tirur. It would be difficult for the people from Malappuram District to travel such a distance.

The petitioner argued that the same would cause relentless hardships to the people living in the locality, especially to working individuals and aged people, including the petitioner.

He pointed out that although there were other trains that did not have a stop at Tirur railway station as well, there was a cardinal difference between those other trains and Vande Bharat.

While the other trains were running on a long distance route from Kerala to other destinations in other states, Vande Bharat rendered service within the state of Kerala, and ignoring the citizens of one district would thus amount to partiality, he added.

The petitioner alleged that non-action of the respondents with regard to the representations put forth by him was arbitrary and against the principles of natural justice.

He said in spite of meticulously running behind the authorities for considering his representation, none of the authorities have performed their duty to resolve the undue delay consecutively made by them and have not stated any reason for the delay that has taken place in considering his representations, which have not evoked any proper response.

On April 28, the Division Bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas and Justice C. Jayachandran had observed that if stops were to be provided on demand by the public, the term express train would itself become a misnomer.

(Case title: P.T. Sheejish vs Union of India & Ors)