Naveen writes to PM on RPF Act amendment

Bhubaneswar: A day after the Centre put on hold the launching of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) following vehement protests protests by several states including Odisha, chief minister Naveen Patnaik today raised another issue by opposing the proposed amendment to the Railway Protection Force (RPF) Act, 1957. "The proposed amendment to the RPF Act is in conflict with the Article 246 of the Constitution of India," Patnaik wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Pointing out that public order and police were state subjects, Patnaik said that taking up amendment on these subjects without consulting state governments amounted to infringement of their powers and was against the federal structure of the Constitution. "It is understood that the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India have already approved the proposal of the Railway Ministry," he said.

The proposed amendment seeks to provide powers of police officers to RPF personnel. Naveen warned that this in itself is violative of the provisions of the Indian Police Act, 1861. "The justification being advanced by the Ministry of Railways for conferring powers of police officers on the RPF personnel so that they can conduct investigations and make arrests, is not at all convincing," Patnaik said.

Arguing that the railway tracks were not outside the jurisdiction of the states through which they run in, Patnaik said that similar arguments could be advanced by other establishments such as the Central Industrial Security Force, who were in-charge of protection of airports, industrial undertakings and other vital installations.

"I am constrained to point out that the Government of India is bent upon taking one step after another that are in conflict with the federal structure of the country and are against the interest of the people of this nation," Patnaik said requesting the Prime Minister to ask the Ministry of Railways not to proceed further with the matter.

Under attack from different non-Congress chief ministers including Patnaik, the Centre on Monday put on hold the launching of the NCTC which was scheduled to be functional from March one.