Narendra Modi opposes RPF amendment bill

New Delhi: After NCTC, it was the turn of a proposal to empower Railway Protection Force (RPF) with police powers that has come under attack from Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

In a strong-worded letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Modi has opposed the proposal of the Railway Ministry to amend the RPF Act.

"The proposed amendment Bill which is intended to confer the powers of State Police Officers to RPF is unwarranted, violation of the constitutional spirit and blow to federal structure of India. It also usurps power of the state legislature," he said.

The provisions being inserted by the proposed amendment of the Railway Protection Force Act, 1957 is not in consonance with the schemes provided under article 246 of the Constitution of India, Modi said.

"Public order" and "police" are state subjects and proposing an amendment on these subjects under entry 22, 30 and 93 of Union List with entry 2 of the concurrent list in schedule VII of the Constitution of India is, not only a step to infringe upon powers of the state but also a serious blow to the federal structure of the Country, he said.

The Gujarat Chief Minister said the proposed amendment is intended to confer "powers of the police officers", which is otherwise provided under Indian Police Act 1861 only, to RPF.

"Recently National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) is notified unilaterally in violation of the Constitutional provisions and many states have taken strong objections to it. In continuation of this, a Bill to give police powers to RPF is being mooted, which again is another attempt to curtail state`s powers…" he said.

The Gujarat Chief Minister said the Railway Ministry is attempting to advocate a theory that railway property in the country is an independent entity and gives an impression that it is a state within a state, thus justifying conferring of police powers of investigation and arrest to the RPF.

A parallel has been drawn from the provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act under which CBI draws jurisdiction in support of such move which is "unfortunate and shocking", he said.

"The argument put forward to confer power of a police officer to RPF personnel is ridiculous which says that the trains run through several states and passengers find it difficult to lodge their complaint with GRP, as several jurisdictions are often involved as if the RPF will not face similar situation."

"It is well known that even the state police face similar dilemma and often carry out investigation in many offences cutting across state jurisdiction. Therefore, such lame justification to take away the powers of the GRP and interfere with the powers of the state government is grave and uncalled for, he said in his letter and also added that such a decision is likely to open up a Pandora`s Box, since CISF safeguarding airports and other public sector undertakings may seek similar powers.

"This will lead to a situation where a host of para-military forces operating in this country, will ask for police powers in their respective operational areas," the Chief Minister said.