July 25, 2021 3:31:30 am
A PROPOSAL to upgrade the post of Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety to the level of Secretary to Government of India or Railway Board Member has been moved yet again, although the Ministry of Railways and Pay Commissions have rejected it repeatedly over the past 20 years.
The Civil Aviation Ministry, which governs the Commission of Railway Safety, has once again moved a draft Cabinet note, to which objections from the Railway ministry have been noted in internal written deliberation, citing all past instances and reasons when the same proposal was rejected. The reply to the note is in final stages while top offices of Railways have this time agreed to the proposal despite the objections noted internally, sources said.
The Commission is an independent auditor of railway accidents and safety aspects in rail operations. It makes many recommendations while the decision to reject the recommendations, if not acceptable, is taken at the level of Railway Board.
Currently, the Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety (CCRS) is an Additional Secretary-level, equivalent to an Additional Member of Railway Board. The zonal Commissioners of Railway Safety (CRS), who report to him, are Joint Secretary-level officers.
The new proposal aims to upgrade the CCRS post, while being silent on the CRS posts.
Internally, the Railways has noted in written deliberation that scales and ranks of different officials of the government are determined by the worth of charge of the post concerned. “Worth of charge and complexities of Chairman, Railway Board and General Managers of zonal railways are incomparable with those of CCRS and CRSs respectively. These jobs in the Commission of Railway Safety are akin to the principal Director of Audit under the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in different departments of Government of India to which their scale and rank should correspond,” it is noted.
In the Cabinet note, the Civil Aviation Ministry has reasoned that since the CCRS has to hold inquiry into accidents and also interact with General Managers, the post should carry equivalent rank and scale.
Railways notings have rejected this justification now as well as in the past. It is recorded in the deliberation that the CCRS has been given powers to hold inquiry by the Railway Act, which empowers the CCRS to elicit evidence. His level of post does not come in the way of this duty. “The Court of Magistrate can summon even Chief Secretary of the State in connection with litigation, but the pay scale of the Magistrate is never equal to the Chief Secretary,” it is noted.
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