JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED

    Why is Railway bureaucracy struggling?

    What's the basic cause of such lethargic behaviour?

    Why there is so much resilience in Railways at the implementation level?

    The deliberate delay in implementing High Court and CAT, Patna orders

    Provisions of anti-dating seniority is totally arbitrary and unconstitutional

    It seems that Railway Board itself don’t want to do justice for their own employees

    Railway Board has not yet implemented O.M. dtd. 04.03.14, which is totally illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional

    New India wants leapfrog growth but our existing bureaucratic system wants it to be step by step in its unique frugal manner. The Indian government was 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 do not seem to be an easy task. Bibek Debroy committee, 7th CPC recommendations, World Bank comments on Independent Railway Safety Investigator and 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 needs a detailed analysis how railway is organised and why there is so much resilience in Indian Railway in the recent past especially at the implementation level.

    BACKGROUND:

    As in another ministry, this big elephant is run by four basic Group of Staff/Officers Group A, B, C & D. Group 'A' officer’s are decision and policy makers posted at various places (Divisions, Zones and Railway Board level) in various capacity as per their experience and hierarchy. Group 'B' officers are those well-experienced people 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 and promotions policy are well defined by DOPT and followed in Indian Railways as well as by other services like IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS etc with basic fact of  50:50 ratio and DITES. In Railway, implementing agencies works at a divisional level were a mix of Group 'A' (Direct Recruits- DR) and Group 'B' (Promotion Recruits- PR) at officers level works in liaising under defined hierarchy.

    REASON OF PRESENT SITUATION:

    The plight of Indian Railways 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 and DOPT guidelines on promotion policy between DR and PR. Remember it's a PAN-INDIA issue, Policies has been well played, modified at secretariat level which affects well laid promotional aspects of Direct Recruits and giving undue advantages to Group '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 3% curtailment was done in all direct requirement across all ministries. Ministry of Railways has curtailed the size of Direct Recruits, but rather than decreasing, increased the intake of Group 'B' officers that too without consulting DOPT and Minister for Railways under undue pressure from Promotee Officers Federation and nexus at Railway Board level causing a disturbance in 1:1 ratio of Direct Recruits versus Promotion Recruits.

    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 a 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 (RBSS) 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 18,950 for Promotion Recruits in comparison to Direct Recruits to give undue advantage. This decision also required the approval of DOPT and 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 vs. Union of Inda, 2013, clearly ruled that Provisions of anti-dating seniority is totally arbitrary and unconstitutional. But Railways still follow this rule by giving the undue advantage of 5-year weightage in seniority to Promotion Recruits. 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 Promotion Recruits and Direct Recruits is a paramount issue which has been deliberated in detail by DOPT and Supreme Court in its various judgement. As per latest judgement of the Apex Court in N. R. Parmar’s case (supra), the DOPT issued an O.M. dated 04.03.2014 for fixation of seniority of direct recruits vis-a-vis promotees, in which date of sending a requisition to recruiting agency is the final date to fixed the inter-se seniority between these two. But, Railway Board has not yet implemented this order which is totally illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional.

    For going into technicality one can read the detail news on www.railsamachar.com, which elaborates the issue in more lucid manner:-

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

    EFFECTS:

    The effect of such undue promotion/posting has affected the health of Railways over the 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 another ministry, Indian Railways has blocks the existing Direct Recruits promotion aspects which in turn affects the decision making the ability of the organisation in the long turn, rather than Contributing to the nation whole-heartily such Direct Recruits.

    When such unqualified/short-sighted Group 'B' officers are posted at policy and decision-making level in divisional level, the quality of maintenance work got affected specially posted at the same place where he has worked since lifelong at the subordinate level.

    So over one decade, the situation of maintenance in Indian Railways 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 the 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 Railway Board for such anomalies but Railway Board has denied the justice. For their rights, Direct Recruits knocked the door of the 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 and directed Railway Board to recast inter-se seniority between Direct Recruits and Promotion Recruits 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.