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Why Railway bureaucracy is struggling

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New India wants leapfrog growth but our existing bureaucratic system wants it to be step by step in its unique frugal manner. Indian government has able to tame this big elephant through various means of ease of governance in recent past, but still a lot of to be done so far as Railways is concerned.

Status-quo inside its bureaucracy stops it to free its wing in the changing time. A mammoth bureaucracy with well defined departments and highest manpower does not seem to be  an easy task. Bibek Debroy committee, 7th CPC recommendations, World Bank comments on Independent Railway Safety Investigator & various other recommendation are piled up in the almirahs of their chambers. Previous government or in the recent various ministers had struggle hard to make them work.

For understanding the basic cause of such lethargic behaviour one need a detail analysis how railway is organised and why there is so much resilience in Indian Railway in the recent past especially at implementation level.

Background

As in other ministry, this big elephant is run by four basic Group of staff/Officers Group A, B , C & D. Group A man’s are decision & policy makers posted at various places (Divisions, Zones & Railway Board level) in various capacity as per their experience & hierarchy. Group B officers are those well experienced person which got promoted from Group C and well aware of the system and mostly manned to implement the policy planned by Group A at ground level.

The same hierarchy & promotions policy are well defined by DOPT and followed in IR as well as by other services like IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS etc with basic fact of  50:50 ratio & DITES. In Railway, implementing agencies works at divisional level where mix of Group A (Direct Recruits DR) & Group B (Promotion Recruits PR) at officers level works in liaising under defined hierarchy.

REASON OF PRESENT SITUATION

The plight of Indian railway has degraded in last decade as a recent discontent which can be felt among Direct Recruits of batches starting from 2007 onwards and most of the reason lies in arbitrary, unconstitutional and unfair practices of Railway Board for not implementing Supreme Court & DOPT guidelines on promotion policy between DR & PR. Remember its a PAN-INDIA issue,  Policies has been well played, modified at secretariat level which affect well laid promotional aspects of Direct Recruits and giving undue advantages to Grp B. These issues are highlighted even by 7th CPC in its recommendation.

It is all started with optimization policy of NDA-1 during 2001-2009 when 30% curtailment was done in all direct requirement across all ministries. Railway ministry has curtailed the size of DR, but rather than decreasing, increased the intake of Group B officers that too without consulting DOPT & MR under undue pressure from Promotee Officers Association and nexus at Railway Board level causing disturbance in 1:1 ratio of DR versus PR. It’s important to note that where optimization policy decreased the number of total officers strength by 18% in other ministries whereas in Railways, it has been modified in such a way that total strength of officer increase by 350% in the said period of 2002-2010 with large number of induction of Promotee Officers.

Secondly, Reserve Posts have been arbitrarily included in Junior Scale to Enhance Recruitment. Detail analysis shows that Railway Board Secretariat Service has done all this on its whims without competent authority approval. For example, adding Reserve post in normal vacancy is in the jurisdiction of Cabinet, even RTI clarify that said Proposal was approved by Railway Minister not by Cabinet.

Thirdly, the “connotation” rule, which is unique to Indian Railways, states that the seniority of a Group `B’ officer promoted to Group `A’ will be determined by giving weightage according to “the year of service connoted by the initial pay on permanent promotion to Group `A’ service.” has been decided arbitrarily at lower stage of Rs 18950 for PR in comparison to DR to give undue advantage. This decision also required approval of DOPT & Finance Ministry but it was not sought off.

7th CPC, in its report claims, it to be ambiguous and untenable. Supreme Court of India in P. Sudhakar Rao v. U. Govinda Rao, 2013, clearly ruled that Provisions of anti dating seniority is totally arbitrary and unconstitutional. But Railways still follow this rule by giving undue advantage of 5 year weightage in seniority to PR. In one of such case of anti-dating, a Group B officer was allocated Group A on the date of its induction to Group B i.e he was promoted from Group C to Group A on the next day whereas it took minimum 20 years in other ministries.

Fourthly and most importantly, fixation of inter se seniority between PR & DR is a paramount issue which has been deliberated in detail by DOPT & SC in its various judgement. As per latest judgement of the Apex Court in N.R. Parmar’s case (supra), the DOP&T issued a OM dated 04.03.2014 for fixation of seniority of direct recruits vis-a-vis promotees, in which date of sending requisition to recruiting agency is the final date to fixed the inter se seniority between these two. But, Railways has not yet implemented this order which is totally illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional.

For going into technicality one can read the news , which elaborate the issue in more lucid manner:-

  1. http://railsamachar.com/news/1013/read
  2. http://railsamachar.com/news/1009/read

EFFECTS

The effect of such undue promotion/posting has affected the health of Railways over long run. Induction of officers more than sanction revenue cost affects the revenue of government. Keeping in mind the focus of NEW INDIA when DIRECT recruits are given new responsibility in other ministry, IR has blocks the existing Direct Recruits promotion aspects which in turn affects the decision making ability of the organisation  in long turn. Rather than Contributing to the nation whole-heartily such DR  When such unqualified/short sighted Group B officers are posted at policy & decision-making level in divisional level,  the quality of maintenance work got affected specially  posted at the same place where he has work since lifelong at subordinate level. So over one decade the situation of maintenance in IR on safety ground got hampered and now the trickle down effects started. It is quite amazing that this isn’t happening in one department, this is the story of all department across Indian Railways, 7th CPC, has just highlighted issue of IRSME in its report.

STRUGGLE 

When there is a will, there is win, Junior Group A officer of various services gave representation to RB for such anomalies but RB has denied the justice. For their rights, DR knocked the door of judiciary for justice, through O.A. No. 050/00460 of 2015 in CAT/PATNA. CAT/PATNA gave the Judgement in favour of Direct Recruits on dated 03/05/2016 & directed Railway Board to recast inter-se seniority between DR & PR a fresh and directed to issue corrigendum/amendment/correction slip in Indian Railway Establishment Manual Volume, with  granting all consequential benefits in favour of the applicant including promotion in JA Grade on the basis of his seniority as per the principle.

But, Railway Board set aside all these directives issued by the court, as it works under strong lobbying of Promotee Officers and the case was referred to Ministry of Law & Justice in the name of “Legal Opinion” just to delay the Implementation of Court Orders. In background, Promote Officers association challenged the CAT/PATNA Judgement in High Court, Patna. It’s correct to mention here that truth prevailed again & Railway Board faced the heat of Hon’ble High Court as Court straightly dismissed the Writ Petition stating that railway board has no authority to frame rule for Group A.

Due to lethargic attitude at secretariat level, again Special Leave Petition (SLP) was filed by Promote Officers against the Order of High Court/Patna in Supreme Court. Though, SLP was admitted by SC but Court denied to put stay on Orders of High Court. Its seems that Railway itself don’t want to do justice for their own employees. With deliberate delay for implementing High Court & CAT, Patna orders, Railway Bureaucracy has given open challenge to Judiciary & its new management team. Now it is upto Judiciary to decide, how it wants to run the show. As nobody wants to see degrading image of our Supreme Institutions, merely to satisfy the Needs of select few.

JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED

Railway is seeing tough times, and Indians in the technology driven times, only cares about result on safety, punctuality. If the decision implementer are themselves struggling hard for their rights in starting of their career, how will they will be able to execute policies & sail through the high winds? With new Chairman & New MR on the corner, Indian Railway workforce has got new energy and aspire to achieve new heights. During his various interaction with media new chairman has put emphasis on HR with keeping “Employee First” objective for ensuring fundamental of safety.  In the recent innovative step, all Station Director post has to be manned by young officers. So new Minister will able to give justice to the newly entered fresh vibes with feel of pride or CRB will able to put much needed motivation so that young officers can able to contribute in the changing times. The future will surely see this time back and analyze the decision taken by ministry and judiciary.

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