Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee wants to do away with the Government Railway Police (GRP) and give its powers to the Railway Protection Force (RPF).
The idea is to get rid of the duality of authority and the problems arising out of this. The minister has already had a draft RPF (Amendment) Act, 2010 readied and will likely move a cabinet note. If approved by cabinet, the bill will be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament, sources said.
The draft bill suggests the 69,000-strong RPF be empowered to deal with all rail crimes. At present, it has the authority only to register an FIR in matters relating to theft or damage to railway property, besides dealing with minor offences like ticket-less travelling.
The GRP, on the other hand, is vested with powers under all the important sections of the Indian Penal Code.
“It’s a move in the right direction,” said former RPF director general A.K. Suri, but added that it won’t be easy to achieve. “If it wants to do away with the GRP, the Railways will not only be required to bring in an entirely fresh bill in Parliament, it will also need the concurrence of at least 50 per cent of the state governments.”
That won’t be easy.
“The idea is flawed and unconstitutional, as law and order is a state subject. The CPM will definitely oppose the bill if it comes up for consideration in Parliament,” CPI-M leader Basudev Acharia said.