In her letter to the Prime Minister, Ms Jayalalithaa drew his attention to the letter of the Chairman, Railway Board and Ex-officio Principal Secretary, Ministry of Railways, Government of India addressed to the Chief Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu wherein he had outlined a proposal to
(i) empower the Railway Protection Force to deal with passenger related offences in the passenger area,
(ii) declare RPF posts units as Police Stations,
(iii) empower RPF Officers to exercise the powers of an Officer in charge of a Police Station and (iv) move from a three tier railway security system of RPF, GRP and District Police to a two tier security system of RPF and District Police and proposed to amend the RPF Act, 1957 accordingly.
As a justification for this, it had been stated that long distance trains traverse over many States and lack of co-ordination among GRPs the Government Railway Police of different States,underlines a need for a dedicated agency to prevent and detect crime in passenger areas, she noted. It was further claimed that the experience of RPF in dealing with offences under Railway Police of Unlawful Possession Act and Railways Act and the availability of basic infrastructure in RPF posts in major Railway Stations would render RPF capable of tackling this job, she pointed out. The Chairman, Railway Board has further sought to draw parallel to the powers extended to CBI under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.
The implications of this proposal were that the Central Government will start Police Stations in Railway Stations and its RPF staff would take over investigation of thefts and other offences relating to passengers on platforms and trains.
The present proposal to do away with GRP was ill-conceived. The GRP serves as the link between RPF and District Police. In the absence of this wing, coordination between RPF and the State Police would suffer, Ms Jayalalithaa observed. Further, GRP deals with not only cases of thefts but also incidents like death on railway tracks. Transferring these cases to District Police would place a heavy burden on the District Police. Further, the States would lose the funding now given for GRP, while having to continue performing law and order duties relating to the railways.
If this trend of making Railway Stations and trains the exclusive domain of RPF continues, a time would come when the District Police would be barred from entering Railway Stations for making arrests of accused wanted in local police cases.
In short, the Railway Stations will become islands of Central Government Authority within the territorial jurisdiction of the States, Ms Jayalalithaa said.
She also pointed out that the proposed amendment to the Railway Protection Force Act, 1957, was yet another blatant attempt by the Government of India to usurp the powers of the State, as this is not in consonance with Article 246 of the Constitution of India, she noted. The “Public Order” and “Police” were State subjects and proposing an amendment on these subjects under Entry 22, 30, and 93 of Union List with Entry 2 of the Concurrent List in Schedule VII of the Constitution was clearly an attempt to infringe upon the powers of the State and would be lethal to the federal structure of the Nation.
The proposed amendment seeking to provide powers of Police Officers to RPF personnel was also violative of the provisions of the Indian Police Act, 1861.
Ms Jayalalithaa therefore, requested the Prime Minister to issue suitable instructions to the Ministry of Railways not to proceed with the proposed amendment to the Railway Protection Act, 1957.