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.
& 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
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
powered Committee on Security and Policing of the Railways, 1966-68 and the
One-man expert Committee on Railway Security and Protection 1976.
High Powered Committee on Security and Policing 1968:
recommended for creation of a Centralised Railway Police under the
Railways. The other recommendations include:
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
·Protection of Railway
track to be the state Government's responsibility.
·Proposal for increase in
GRP strength to be examined.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.