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Home » Civil Services » RPF

RPF (Railway Protection Force)

Railway Protection Force
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Name of Civil Services : RPF (Railway Protection Force)

Description :

1. Origin of the force:

Efforts towards crime control on the Railways is almost as old as history of the Indian Railways itself.  Soon after the introduction of Railways in India in 1853, the Private Railway companies, which owned the railway system, then found that they were besieged with thefts of materials and tools from the Workshops and Stores. On order to save their interests, the private Railway companies initially deployed their own private police force.  This formed the earliest instance of formation of a private security system on the Railways.

However, with the enactment of Indian Police Act in 1861, all private police were banned, Meanwhile on the recommendation of the Railway Police Committee 1872 the Railway Police was organized in to Government Police for law enforcement and Company Police for the Watch and Ward duties for the Railways.  The actual implementations of these came about in 1881.

2.Watch & Ward Duties and their limitations:

The Policing System on Railways was split up in 1862, to form the Government Police, which was deployed for the benefit of the Private Railway Companies on payment of necessary charges.  This paved the way for what would become the GRP in the years to come.  Meanwhile, to contain the property thefts of the Company Railways, a Watch and Ward organization was formed in 1882 by deployment of chowkidars by each department.   However increasing crime rate in early 1900s underlined the need for evolving a better security system by the Company Railways.  What was of extreme concern was the increasing theft of goods entrusted to the railways for carriage.   

The Railway Police Administration initially functioned under three different Systems viz at the District level, Provincial level and also as part of the Railway administration.

The Indian Police Commission 1902-1903 in its recommendations favoured a provincial system of Railway Policing and also recommended close co-ordination between the Railway Police and the Railway Administration.  Further it sought to separate Watch and Ward duties from the Railway Police.


3.Committees and their Recommendations:

The Government of India set up a Railway Police Committee in 1907, which re-classified the duties of the Railway Police in to crime duties (Class-A and Order duties Class-B).  According to this classification the charges of the class -A duties was to be done by the Government and class -B duties to be done on payment by the Railways entirely.  The proportionate charges for supervision of the duties was fixed at one fourth of the total cost.

The Railway Police Committee of 1921 recommended for a Central Crime Bureau of Information and advised for the formation of a Special Detective and Investigative agency in each province.  The committee also granted search powers for the OC of a Railway Police station and recommended for a Provincial system of organization for the Railway Police and for uniform rules and procedures through out India, besides providing Police guards for protection of night trains. With the onset of World War II, the Railway Companies started suffering serious losses, due to large scale theft of consignments resulting in huge claims that had to be paid.  The Watch and Ward staff were found to be grossly inadequate to meet the situation.

With the attainment of Independence in 1947 and nationalization of the Railways, two important committees were set up by the government of India, viz., the Mullick Committee of 1954 and also the Kriplani Committee.  The report of the Director, IB in 1954 also highlighted the need for a reorganization of the Watch and Ward staff into a statutory body.  The Ministry of Railways in consultation with the MHA decided that there should be an integrated and organized Force along the lines of state police to meet the unique requirements of crime against Railway property.  This led to the enactment of Railway Protection Force Act, 1957. 

4.RPF in the post-Independence Era:

The post Independence era saw large scale changes in the Railway System.  The erstwhile princely states had their own small railway lines to cater to their internal requirements mostly for trains running on meter gauge or narrow gauge systems.  The partition of the country brought its own set of problems and train operations became more complex.  New lines were laid and conversion of important Meter Gauges to Broad Gauges were also taken up.   The Railways were nationalised and re-organised into nine Zonal Railways. The overall pattern of train operations underwent large scale changes which brought in its wake, new challenges and new problem areas. 

Acknowledging the need for a better system of security and policing on Railways, the Government of India set up various study committees to bring out suitable changes in their systems of security on the Railways.  Notable among these are:

The High powered Committee on Security and Policing of the Railways, 1966-68 and the One-man expert Committee on Railway Security and Protection 1976.

5.The High Powered Committee on Security and Policing 1968:

This committee recommended for creation of a Centralised Railway Police under the Railways.  The other recommendations include:

�Abolition of the distinction between Crime and Order wings of the GRP.

�Additional powers to RPF including powers under sections 151 and 152 of Cr.P.C. to be conferred on the  RPF.

�Protection of Railway track to be the state Government's responsibility.

�Proposal for increase in GRP strength to be examined.

6.The One-Man Expert Committee 1976:

However, the One-man expert committee on Railway Security and Protection 1976 had a different set of ideas.  This committee did not favour any uniformed Police Force, and recommended that GRP should continue to remain separate from District Police and that the Railways should bear 50% of the total expenditure on GRP.  The Committee however, agreed that compartmentalisation of Crime wing and Order wing of GRP should abolished and that the SPs of the District should be responsible for controlling crime on railways in their respective districts.  In addition to the above, it also made two noteworthy recommendations-namely that MHA should reply to Parliamentary questions on Law & Order and Crime on Railways, thus making it amply clear as to who shall be accountable for Railway crimes.  It also recommended for concurrent legal powers for RPF in matters of offences against all railway property.

7.Recent Landmarks:

The issues were again taken up by the National Police Commission, 1981 which constituted a Railway Police panel to study and recommend improvements to the policing and security on Railways. But before the commission could examine the recommendations, it was wound up.

Enactment of the Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1966 [RP(UP)Act] was a landmark legislation in the history of RPF, since this single act has brought out paradigm changes in the attitude of the Force and its confidence level.  This Act conferred the RPF with the powers to arrest offenders of Railway property, enquire into such cases, and also to prosecute them in the Court of Law.  This enactment was responsible for bringing down in the coming years, property offenders on the Railways, particularly, those of booked consignment and also Railways' own properties.  Despite the manifold increase in freight movement by the Indian Railways, the volume of claims compensation paid due to thefts have been contained and brought to reasonable levels in recent years, mainly due to positive efforts taken by the RPF under the RP(UP) Act.

The Railway Reforms Committee 1983 recommended for increasing the strength of GRP substantially and merging the GRP with the District Police.

It sought to establish mobile OPs by Civil Police in trains and registration of FIRs by the mobile Police OP irrespective of any provincial jurisdiction and place of occurrence.  It also recommended for legal powers to RPF to deal with Riotous mob and unlawful assemblies, besides abolishing of RPF escorts in trains.  This committee wanted Railway officials to have an indirect say in the annual assessment reports of the SHO of GRP.

A later committee on subordinate legislation of the Lok Sabha conducted a scrutiny of the RPF Rules 1987 but restricted the study to issues like recruitment, promotion and DAR Rules and did not go in to the working of the system.

September, 20th, 1985, was yet another landmark day in the history of the Force, in that; RPF was constituted into an Armed Force of the Union, modifying the RPF Act by means of  a  Parliamentary enactment.  The RPF Rules, 1987, replaced the old working pattern and gave a new directional thrust to the Force.  With this enactment, the Force now enjoyed a new status along with those of CRPF, BSF, CISF, and ITBP, ASSAM Rifles etc.  Apart from enhancing the pride within the members of the Force, it also brought an increased sense of responsibility to carry out the tasks, besides attracting better talent and educationally qualified youth to join the Force.    This has been particularly, reflected in the performance of the Force in the last two decades, where RPF have has been called upon to perform arduous tasks in extremely difficult conditions, such as during the Punjab problem in 1980s, where train running would not have been possible without the  help of RPSF and RPF contingents, train operations in insurgency-prone areas in the North East, and other difficult situations such as, the Ayodhya imbroglio, besides Law and Order problems in Bihar and also maintaining of peace and assisting civil administration in almost every Parliamentary and Legislative Assembly elections.  The Force has managed to hold its place along with the best  of combatant forces and has marched with  its head high in Republic Day parades, ever since its emergence  as a Central Police Organization.

8.RPF: Future perspective:

          The recent amendments in 2003, in the Railways Act 1989, and the RPF Act 1957 have conferred additional powers on the RPF to tackle petty offenders in railways and towards maintenance of orderliness in railway premises.  This however, is not to state that an ideal situation has been achieved in solving the security related problems in Railways.  There still remain certain vital areas that have to be covered in the fight against crimes and lawlessness on Railways.  Security of rail passengers and prompt registration of baggage thefts on the trains have been the biggest areas wanting in this regard.  For this purpose, legislation on the lines of the Railway Offences, 1976 is extremely necessary, which can confer the RPF with additional powers to tackle certain cognizable offences, and specifically property offences in the railway premises under Indian Penal Code.

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