Rail Ministry seems in no mood to relent on recalling Officers from IPO-bound RVNL, wants officers back, right away!

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Railways seems in no mood to relent on recalling officers from Rail Vikas Nigam Limited, a PSU under its control, even as its means reduction in staff strength at the IPO-bound company.

It has issued show-cause notice to many officers and is in the process of firing more such letters noting that railways would deem them to have resigned, as they have not reported back to the cadre after expiry of the approved deputation.

As per the February ord­er, 167 employees of 388 on deputation from the Railway Ministry would stand repatriated. This, senior officers argue, would impact daily functioning of the rail infrastructure developer when the government is readying plans for its listing.

“As per extant instructions of the ministry, if an officer doesn’t return to the railways within one month of expiry of the sanctioned tenure it shall be deemed that he has resigned from the service,” the ministry is learnt to have written to officers. The ministry sources said hundreds of officers are on deputation with rail PSUs with many of them completing five years there.

While they hoped the deputation would be extended for few more years, the railw­ays in an order has set it at 5 years. In its letter, the railways said since it received large number of application from officers engaged with rail PSUs and autonomous bodies the deputation policy needed a review.

While allowing extension beyond five years of deputation only in “exceptional circumstances” and reasons being “compelling” the Railway Board, the ministry’s apex policy-making body, asked PSUs to not retain an officer beyond sanctioned period. “Borrowing organisations are required to initiate sufficiently in advance the process to obtain extension of deputation, or otherwise to fill up the vacancy so as to ensure that no deputation overstays the sanctioned tenure for want of a replacement,” the board order said.

A section of officers on deputation has, however, begged to differ with the board order claiming it’s against the settled principle that advocates longer tenure given the domain knowledge required for PSUs carrying out railway projects. It has cited an earlier instance when DoPT delegated powers to the railway ministry for approving extension of tenure of deputation up to 7 years for two PSUs – RVNL and DFCCIL.

“Suo moto review of the central government policies on service matters without any stakeholder consultation and framing of rest­r­i­c­tive rules in variance to the well-considered policies laid down by the government through DoPT usually results in difficulties to affected entities as well as officers and leads to litigation,” the Federation of Railway Officers Associations wrote to the board.