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Jul 5, 2013
Trouble over high-level postings at the Railway Board is far from over. The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) on Wednesday stayed the process of appointment of Member (Traffic), which was to be finalised this week, till the next hearing at the end of this month.
The stay order followed a plea from a senior rail official who was excluded from contention for the post. Now the railways will have to submit an affidavit, showing why the process should resume and why it feels that there was no impropriety in the process that excluded the official.
N C Sinha, Chief Operating Officer, South Western Railway, is currently the second-most senior officer in his cadre. The 1975-batch officer of the Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS), an allied service of the UPSC, had approached the tribunal because his career progression has remained halted since the past one year after a vigilance case against him.
As per seniority and the remaining service period, Sinha would have otherwise been eligible to be Member (Traffic) this year after serving for a year as GM last year. He retires in June 2014. Sinha was eligible to be General Manager, Kolkata Metro since August 2012.
The railways exonerated Sinha in the vigilance case last year despite a note of disagreement from the Central Vigilance Commission because, informally, ministry officials admit that the case was not serious enough to warrant such harsh punishment. The CVC had, therefore, asked the railways to put up its disagreement before competent authorities in appointments, like the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet and the Department of Personnel and Training while deciding Sinha's promotion. The railways has also not processed Sinha's promotion to other senior posts in the rank of Additional Member at Railway Board.
The matter remained unresolved for more than a year and in the meantime, Sinha's junior in the cadre, Devi Prasad Pande, a 1976-batch IRTS officer who became General Manager of South Central Railway in April this year, became eligible to be Member (Traffic).
Sources said Pande would have taken over as Member (Traffic) if the stay order had not come on Wednesday.
Sinha decided to approach CAT because the railways ministry had not been taking a decision on his case, which, according to officials, was affecting his career progression and related benefits.
In the absence of a Member (Traffic), which, by convention is held by the senior-most IRTS officer, Member (Electrical) Kul Bhushan, an officer of the Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers, was given additional charge of the post for three months on Sunday. Member (Traffic) is the top boss for all train operations and commercial earnings in Indian Railways.
Full-time appointments to two other Member posts, Chairman and Financial Commissioner are also hanging for want of a mandatory CVC clearance to the contenders.
Source - Indian Expres
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