In a move likely to facilitate elevation of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (SC&ST) officers to senior-level posts, the railways ministry has formulated a policy to raise the upper age limit for postings to critical positions like divisional railway managers (DRMs) from the current 52 years to 54 years.
The draft proposal, under discussions by the Railway Board has raised the hackles of the “general” category officers, who say it will be unfair to “change goalposts at a juncture when a fresh panel of names for DRM postings has already been finalised”.
SC/ST officers demand age relaxation on grounds that – since they usually enter the government service at a higher age – they routinely become ineligible for DRM postings on grounds of being “over-age”. Railway officials refused to comment on the move. DRMs are considered the cutting edge of rail management and such postings are a pre-requisite for elevation to higher posts as general managers (GMs) or as members of the Railway Board.
“The age limitation of 52 years has brought grave injustice to SC/ST officers. The Constitution provides a five year relaxation for such candidates appearing in the UPSC examination and engineering services. The same age relaxation should be made available for DRM postings”, the All India Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Railways Employees Association (AISCSTREA) said in a memorandum submitted to railways minister Mallikarjun Kharge last month.
The federation of railway officers association (FROA) said that “time tested norms should not be changed without a proper evaluation whether the age limit of 52 years has served the overall goals of the railways”.
“Some years back, the railways were planning to reduce the age limit for DRM postings to 50 years with aims of infusing more dynamism. Moves to increase the age limit to 54 years are misplaced. If these steps are implemented, we will be constrained to petition the government to demand that all joint secretary rank postings and promotions be conducted by the department of personnel and training”, FROA honorary general secretary Shubhranshu said.