The Delhi High Court today sought the government’s response on a PIL seeking to immediate provision of hygienic and quality food and water to passengers both at the stations and in trains. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the Railway Ministry and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and sought their explanation on whether they are provding hygienic food to the passengers or not. The bench directed the authorities to file their status report before the next date of hearing on December 13. 60-year-old Narinder Khanna had moved the court seeking protection to his and other citizens’ lives and personal liberty given under the Constitution. Citing his personal experience and an audit report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on catering services in the railways, the plea sought an order to the authorities to give a time-bound undertaking on implementation of CAG recommendations making it mandatory for providing bills for every eatable goods, sold on stations and in trains.
The CAG in its report tabled in Parliament in July had observed that food articles unsuitable for human consumption, contaminated foodstuff, recycled foodstuff, packaged and bottled items past their shelf-life and unauthorised brands of water bottles were offered for sale at stations. The petitioner, a Delhi resident, in his public interest litigation (PIL) urged the court to nominate railway officials both at the station and in all trains to monitor the quality of eatables and water.
The plea said that as per the CAG report, the government was losing revenue in billions because neither bills were being provided to the passengers for the food served in trains, nor printed menu cards with tariff are avaliable with waiters or catering managers. “Now, with introduction of unified Goods and Service Tax (GST) throughout the country, it is Railways’ responsibility to ensure that bills are issued and appropriate tax is levied,” the PIL said.