Crime on Railways: blame Chief Minister not Railways Minister
New Delhi, June 22: Probably most of the Indians generally travel by trains. However, few are aware that if a crime happens with them on a train then technically they shouldn't blame the Union Railways Minister but the Chief Minister of the state where the crime was committed.
It was once again reminded by Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday when he told Rajya Sabha that policing on Railways is a State subject.
In a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, Goyal said, "Prevention of crime, registration of cases, their investigation and maintenance of law & order in Railway premises as well as on running trains are the statutory responsibility of the State Governments. "
The Minister was replying about the measures being taken for the safety of women passengers.
He added that State Governments, which they discharge through Government Railway Police (GRP)/District Police. However, Railway Protection Force (RPF) supplements the efforts of GRP to provide better protection and security of passenger area and passengers.
However, what Goyal has told the House is far away from reality. For, a force doesn't become 'police' unless it is 'enrolled' under the Police Act (1861). Despite being an 'armed force' of the Union, the RPF isn't a police force. However, it is often headed by Indian Police Service (IPS) officials.
For example, Ranjit Sinha served as the Director General RPF from November 2008 until May 2011. Sinha is a 1974 batch Bihar cadre IPS officer.
RPF shares its duties with the GRP and the District Police and functions on the basis of what is supposed to be a finely demarcated legal line. The primary responsibility of the RPF is the protection of railway property.
The fundamental duty of GRP is the maintenance of order on railway stations and trains.
The current legal limitations on RPF and the division of roles between RPF, GRP, and district police is hindering railway security.
To make the security on Indian Railways centralised, Railway Protection Force (Amendment) Bill, 2011 was introduced.
However, various chief ministers had objected the amendments.
For example, then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had observed: "The proposed amendment Bill, which is intended to confer the powers of State Police Officers to Railway Protection Force (RPF) is unwarranted, violation of the constitutional spirit and blow to federal structure of India. It usurps power of the state legislature and deals a serious blow to the federal structure of the country. "
Now, Narendra Modi is Prime Minister and the status quo on passenger security is maintained because what he felt as a Chief Minister is the position of the current Chief Ministers.