At least 22 senior officials in the ministry of railways are under the scanner following the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) negative reports about them.
These officers belong to the Indian Railways’ North Eastern zone that covers Uttar Pradesh, western Bihar, and Uttarakhand.
After the anti-graft agency red-flagged their names, most of them have been removed from sensitive postings in which decisions involving monetary transactions are taken. Three officials continue to stay in their posts but their “financial powers” have been withdrawn.
One officer has been on sick leave for long, said a source.
Every year, the CBI prepares two lists that identify officers with doubtful integrity. The suspects’ names and other particulars are kept away from public glare but shared with their department heads for a discreet check on their activities.
The CBI’s lists are prepared with inputs from the chief vigilance officers of central ministries, public sector units and undertakings. If an officer features in either of these lists, it has an adverse effect on their career.
The copies of the two lists are kept in the custody of the CBI and head of the concerned ministry, department or undertaking.
The purpose of the agency placing the officers on such a watch is not only to pre-empt their corruption, it can also begin a “formal, open” probe against them on receipt of adequate “material evidence” establishing any irregularity, said the source.
“He or she can get removed from a sensitive posting immediately and if that is not possible, his or her financial powers would be taken away,” said the source.
It can also blight the officer’s access to career-advancement opportunities and post-retirement jobs of commercial nature, added the source.
The Indian Railways runs 12,000 trains daily to carry over 23 million passengers, more than the combined population of Belgium and Hungary, across 8,000 stations in the country. There are 17 zones including the NER.
As part of its probe into the high-tech manipulations of Indian Railways’ static and Electronic In-Motion Weigh Bridges last April, the CBI had conducted raids on 65 nation-wide locations and subsequently registered four cases against private firms and unknown railways officials.
Last December, the agency had booked two senior officers of the Northern Railway, along with others, for alleged irregularities related to the supply of cheap packaged drinking water instead of the government-approved Rail Neer brand in premium trains.