Rail employees seek an end to corruption in appointments

NEW DELHI: The bribes for top-level appointments scandal that could soon lead the Central Bureau of Investigation to Railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s doorstep, has rattled the rank and file of the Indian Railways, the country’s largest employer with 1.4 million employees. The Railways’ largest union has urged the government to take urgent action to plug the loopholes that offer scope for nepotism in appointments.

The All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF), which won the rights to represent employees in 16 out of the 17 railway zones after a secret ballot poll that concluded in late April, said that the bribe taint had badly demoralised Railways’ workers and tarnished the utility’s image. “There should be no doubt about the fact that there are certain loopholes in the process of promotion at the apex level, which facilitate scope for favouritism on face-value or other considerations,” AIRF general secretary Shiva Gopal Mishra has written in a letter sent to cabinet secretary Ajit Seth on Tuesday, adding that appointments had degenerated into ‘You show me the face, I will show you the rules.’ “The process of promotion is required to be made fully transparent and foolproof, so that the deserving candidates with clear image are able to get their due promotion,” the AIRF has urged.

The union’s letter to the government comes a day after the apex association of railways officers sent a detailed complaint to Seth as well as the principal secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office Pulok Chatterjee, alleging that senior level ‘lucrative’ positions were kept vacant for long stretches to enable corruption.