Nearly 100 homeguards requested by the railways for securing ladies compartments in Mumbai's local trains have not yet been provided by the Maharashtra state government, as they are awaiting a clarification from the railway board on cost sharing for the same. This fact came to light when the Bombay High Court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by the Help Mumbai foundation regarding safety of women in public places and trains in the city after the Delhi gangrape.
In previous hearings, Help Mumbai foundation had submitted that the GRP and the RPF have less than 10 per cent female constables to guard the 20 lakh women who travel by the suburban network daily. The petitioners had demanded that this number be increased. The railways while responding to this had said that a process of recruiting more female constables has been underway since 2011.
The railways further submitted that they had sought the help of the Maharashtra state government, who are also respondents in the case, to fill in the lacuna, till all vacancies are filled. The railways had requested the state government to provide 350 homeguards for the same. At this point the petitioners' advocate pointed out that the state had only provided close to 200 homeguards of which very few were women.
Responding to the petitioners', the state government said that they have provided around 200 homeguards to the railways already and have honoured the request. However, they had also sent several letters to the railway board regarding cost sharing which had not been responded to. Chief Justice Mohit Shah then asked the railways to tell the court if they had any problems sharing the cost. The railways is expected to respond in detail at a later date.
The state government also submitted that there is a policy of filling up 30 per cent of the posts in the state police machinery with women. Advocate General Darius Khambatta said that the idea is to have at least one female officer available at the police station 24/7. He also said that a female officer/constable is available at all times at railway police stations already.