In a curious move, Railway Board Member Financial Commissioner Sanjoy Mookerjee put in his papers on Friday, seeking voluntary retirement in August, three months before he is due to retire.
Mookerjee did not respond to messages from The Sunday Express. But his decision has taken the ministry and his fellow Board members by surprise. Railway Board Chairman A K Mital said he had not had the chance to speak to Mookerjee. “Maybe he has some personal reasons. I do not know. I will speak to him on Monday,” Mital told The Sunday Express.
Financial Commissioner is an ex-officio Secretary to Government of India. It is the topmost post managing finances of Railways, including the Budget. It is also a post representing the Finance Ministry at the highest governing body of the national transporter.
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It is not clear if Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will request Mookerjee to reverse his decision or if Mookerjee would be amenable to such requests. But one thing is certain, no one saw this coming. Mookerjee left for Allahabad to hold a meeting of all zonal railway accounts officers Thursday. He remained out of Delhi Saturday as well. In Allahabad, he spoke of the future of accounting reforms and economy measures in railway operations, subjects he has been pursuing all along.
Office bearers of Indian Railway Accounts Service Association, a union of the cadre Mookerjee heads, has decided to meet him. “He is a very popular officer among the cadre,” said a member of the association. It is not common for Railway Board members to seek voluntary retirement months before their scheduled exit. Departure now would not change Mookerjee’s retirement benefits, sources said.
Mookerjee is a 1978-batch IRAS officer from Kolkata. Earlier, he was posted as Director General of National Academy of Indian Railways in Vadodara. His tenure as Financial Commissioner is marked by Railways managing the burden of the VIIth Pay Commission, unprecedented external borrowings for infrastructure works, and economy measures within the organisation.