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Brazen discrimination in Railway Board: Is PMO watching?

By IndianMandarins- 23 May 2020


During the COVID crisis, when officers are not able to travel and present their cases to higher authorities, the Chairman Railway Board is being blamed by several officers for discrimination and departmentalism; though Railway itself is a department comprising various cadres and services. While blaming the CRB they talk facts and examples as well.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister, approved the promotion of four Mechanical officers to the grade of Additional Member, which is a post equivalent to General Managers. Yet, one officer, A K Kathpal, the Principal Chief Mechanical Engineer of ICF, has been denied the elevation on the ground that there is a Vigilance case against him.

Even as the spate of vigilance cases against ICF officers involved in making the Train 18 have reached nowhere near conclusion, just a case in the initial stage is being used as a ploy to deny promotion to a senior officer.

The rules in this matter are very clear. Unless the vigilance case has reached finality and unless the Central Vigilance Commission has recommenced departmental proceedings against an officer, he cannot be denied promotion. Further, aas per CVC guidelines any complaint within 6 months of vacancy is not to be taken cognizance of.

In  Kathpal’s case the DPC was sent to ACC in April 2020 whereas the vigilance case now cited is much earlier. His case has not even been sent to the CVC. Yet, his promotion has been withheld and the Railway Ministry is planning to send a report to the ACC that Kathpal cannot be promoted. It is a complete mockery of ACC though it is unlikely that the ACC will agree to this nefarious design since the vigilance case existed against Kathpal even when his name was sent for empanelment as an Additional Member to the ACC.

The so-called ‘ism’, if any, is clear from the fact that the same yardstick has not been applied in the case of Electrical Officers. N K Gupta, the Principal Chief Electrical Engineer of ICF was promoted to Additional Member grade even when there were two vigilance cases pending against him. D P Dash, another Electrical officer, who was the Chief Electrical Design Engineer of ICF also had two vigilance cases against him, yet he was granted the Higher Administrative Grade. Two more Electrical Officers of ICF, Amitabh Singhal and Praveen Chauhan were promoted to Senior Administrative Grade in spite of vigilance cases against them.

O P Khare, a Stores Officer, who was the Principal Chief Materials Manager of ICF was allowed to retire with full benefits even as he had a vigilance case against him. 

The ‘ism’ is also evident from his propensity to post Electrical Officers on key posts not identified for the Electrical department. Sudhir Kumar an Additional Member in Railway Board is holding three posts of Additional Members, Planning, Electrification and Transformation. Navin Kumar, another Electrical Officer is holding two posts of Establishment Branch, Executive Director Gazetted Cadre and Joint Secretary Confidential, posts which were traditionally held by Personnel department officers. Yet another Electrical Officer, P C Lochab, is occupying the Establishment post of Railway Sports Control Board.

It is being said that Kathpal’s promotion is being denied to build a precedent to deny promotion to another Mechanical officer to the post to Additional Member or Secretary Railway Board. If the ACC agrees to these manipulations of the Ministry of Railways, it will not only be demoralizing for the officers in general,  it will also violate existing rules on vigilance cases.

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