Seeking autonomy for Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) for its effective functioning as an accident investigator, a parliamentary panel today described the prevailing scenario for probing rail mishaps by CRS as “disappointing” and its mandate as “greatly restricted.”
“A new law is required to empower CRS for improving its functioning,” said CPI(M) MP Sitaram Yechury, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, after submitting its report.
The committee, in its report, said that it is convinced that in the present safety scenario, a separate legislation needs serious consideration for clearly defining the role, powers and jurisdiction of CRS for ensuring its autonomy and effective functioning.
Although the Railway Act provides that CRS, which is under Civil Aviation Ministry, can investigate any accident notified or not, CRS in actual practice is not able to do so in view of the limitations-legal, infrastructural, technical, manpower under which it has to function, the committee noted.
Terming it as disappointing picture, where CRS powers relating to accident investigation are concerned, the 31-member committee observed that basic mandate of CRS is greatly restricted.
“Therefore, the committee emphasises the need for empowering CRS for increasing its autonomy and effectiveness as an accident investigator,” the report said.
CRS should be legally empowered to conduct inspection annually which is not the practice now, Yechury said.
Prior to 1953, CRS had the power of inspection but it was taken away by the Railways by an executive order that year.
Commenting on the executive order, the committee said it was of the view that the power to issue directions given to the Railways by the Act cannot be used to take away something given by the same Act.
The committee observed that in actual practice, CRS is able to investigate only some accidents notified by the General Managers and a large number of accidents are left to be investigated by the Railways, the service provider themselves.
Keywords: Autonomy for Commission of Railway Safety, CRS to function as accident investigator, parliamentary panel, probing rail mishap wanted new law empower CRS, CPI(M) MP Sitaram Yechury, Chairman of Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, report.