The Bombay High Court today castigated "so-called activists" for approaching it on the issue of safety of commuters only after the Elphinstone Road station stampede and asked why they woke up to the "serious and sensitive" issue only after the death of so many people.
On September 29, a stampede on the stairwell of a narrow foot over bridge (FOB) at the station left 23 dead and over 30 injured.
Soon after the mishap, four public interest litigations (PILs) were filed in the high court seeking directions to the railways to take measures to ensure that such an incident is not repeated at any other railway station.
The HC today noted that only after so many people died that the activists realised and came up with petitions.
"The station concerned and bridge is in existence since 1867, according to the petitions. Till date...till 23 people died...till the incident everybody closed their eyes to the problem. Now after the incident, these so-called activists have woken up and come with PILs," a division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice N M Jamdar said.
"The cause is serious. This is a serious problem but these petitioners before us only want to self advertise. We are of the opinion that the cause is serious and sensitive and hence we will appoint a lawyer as amicus curiae to assist us in the matter," Chief Justice Chellur said.
The bench was hearing two PILs - one by Thane resident Vikrant Tawde seeking judicial inquiry into the stampede and another filed by Smita Mayank Dhruva, president of Congress's South Mumbai division, seeking railways to take measures for better crowd management.
"All these prayers the petitioners should have sought before the incident," Justice Jamdar said.
The high court has posted the petitions for further hearing after four weeks.
The court also directed Dhruva to file an affidavit stating what work she has done in the past towards the cause at the Elphinstone Road railway station.
"Petitioner Smita Dhruva to file an affidavit stating as president of Congress party's South Mumbai division what attention she paid to the congestion at the station concerned prior to the incident," the court directed.
Tawde, in his petition, sought for an exercise to be carried out to identify similar high risk railway stations, give top priority to widening of bridges and zero tolerance policy towards hawkers and encroachers on bridges.