Northern Railways GM, Railway Board Secretary misled Punjab and Haryana High Court, get reprimanded
The single bench of the high court has directed the Railway Board, New Delhi to conduct an inquiry into the "sudden and arbitrary" withdrawal of checking staff from the Special Railway Magistrate Squad in September 2016.
Justice Raj Shekhar Attri has fixed a period of six months to the Railway Board to take appropriate action in the matter.
The decision was taken after the court observed that Senior Divisional Commercial Manager (Sr. DCM) Parveen Gaur Dwivedi, had no justifiable reason to withdraw checking staff from the SRM squad.
The court also rejected a plea filed by the above-mentioned Sr. DCM, seeking quashing of complaint dated October 18, 2016, against her by the SRM for obstructing his judicial duties.
The case emerged when on September 18, 2016, the SRM was informed that the railway authorities refused to provide requisite staff for the purpose of checking and penalizing the offenders as provided under Railways Act, 1989 (Act 24 of 1989), the Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1966 as well as in earlier statue i.e Indian Railways Ac, 1980.
Post the refusal, the SRM issued a show cause notice to Sr DCM Dwivedi for obstructing in performing judicial functioning by not providing a squad of 10 Traveling Ticket Examiners (TTEs) even after being informed about the same.
The SRM in the show cause notice stated, "It is pertinent to mention that such an action on your part prima facie tantamount to interference in my judicial functioning apart from causing revenue loss to the Railways."
However, Dwivedi in reply to the show cause notice said that she received oral communications regarding SRM-Check for September 29 and 30, 2016 and admitted that the staff was not provided.
In her explanation, she said, "The oral communication was duly received" for the SRM checks at Railway stations at Ambala Cantt and city, however, due to a shortage of staff, the request for the SRM-check quad had to be declined.
The court observed that the Railway Magistrate must be provided with a team of guards or TTEs and that the Railway Magistrate cannot check the offenders himself. And, under the Act, Rules and Manuals, it has been specifically provided that the Magistrate is provided with the team for the purpose.
The court observed, "The evidence available on the record establishes that the petitioner (Dwivedi) has unnecessarily, without any cogent reason has withdrawn the staff."
The court further questioned the explanation provided by Dwivedi regarding the shortage of staff. The court said, "She explained that there is a shortage of staff but it is not understandable why the shortage was only considered on September 29 and 30."
Justice Khatri also rejected the Sr DMC's argument of the railway department making all efforts on their own level to ensure effective checking, and said this "amounts to ouster of jurisdiction of the Railway Magistrate and the petitioner (Dwivedi), along with the officers of her department want to get rid of the Railway Magistrate."
He further said, "If this version is accepted, it will completely thwart the provisions of the sections 137 to 178 of the Act."
"Even travelling in a train without a ticket is an offence and only a railway magistrate is competent to try the same. Apart from it, if this version (Dwivedi's) is accepted, it will invite dishonest practices," Justice Khatri observed.