Yet again, the Railway Board – the apex decision-making body for the country's transport mammoth – has initiated hasty decisions in some policy matters bypassing rules and regulations. Railway minister Mallikarjuna Kharge's secretary. Rajendra Kataria, a 1996 batch Karnataka Cadre IAS officer, has written a note on behalf of his minister to formulate a policy on transfers of senior officers in the Railways.
Rajendera Kararia's note clearly violates a cabinet secretary's order prohibiting the secretaries to issue orders on behalf of their respective ministers in policy matters. To top it all, he issued his note at a time when the electoral code of conduct was in force for the general elections that concluded on May 12.
The cabinet secretary's note marked 'secret' (a copy of which is with dna) was issued in February 2000 and requires the ministers to issue orders pertaining to policy decision under their own signatures. The order reads, "Prime minister has directed that all the members of the council of ministers be advised that they indicate their approval/concurrence on files under their own signatures." The order covers parliament questions, assurances or other parliamentary matters, cabinet notes and all major policy decisions.
However, it is not the first time that an instance of bending the rules has come up at the railway board. There had been a slew of other decisions such as hasty and illegal appointment of a joint secretary on March 18, as reported by dna first on May 8.
The recent violation pertains to order on new policy for transfers in various cadres of Railway Board released on March 31. In the order issued on behalf of Kharge, Kataria has mentioned, "Minister of railways has desired that a policy be immediately framed and the action taken in this matter may be advised by April 15." The order pertains to Railway Board Secretariat Service (RBSS), Railway Board Secretariat Stenographer Services (RBSSS) and Railway Board Clerical Services (RBSCS).
Interestingly, the minister's office took up the matter due to irregularities in the transfers in secretarial services, but ended up circumventing the rules. "It has been brought to the notice of the railway minister that no transfer policy exists in various cadres of railway board. This not only affects the overall administrative skills….but also gives rise to malpractices and may lead to vested interests," said the order ironically, released by Kataria.
The director general (public relations) of the Railway Board was not available to comment on the urgency for pushing the policy at a time when the electoral code of conduct was in force.