Wednesday, May 31, 2017

MADURAI, MAY 25, 2017 

The Madras High Court Bench here has come to the rescue of a woman loco pilot who was denied relaxation of certain rules when it came to her promotion despite service regulations providing for such a relaxation and directed the General Manager (GM) of Southern Railways to reconsider her case in a “more pragmatic manner.”

Allowing a writ petition filed by P. Narayana Vadivu, a Senior Assistant Loco Pilot, a Division Bench of Justices T.S. Sivagnanam and P. Velmurugan set aside an order passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) on January 6, 2014 dismissing her plea for promotion and directed the GM to consider the plea afresh within six weeks.

The judges agreed with petitioner’s counsel T. Sakthi Kumaran that the railway officials and the CAT had failed to consider that the petitioner was a woman and she would not be able to gain 60,000 km of foot plate experience without sufficient opportunities to serve as a driver on onward and return trips.

Authoring the judgement, Mr. Justice Sivagnanam said an Assistant Loco Pilot or Senior Assistant Loco Pilot who had not completed two years of residency period should have gained at least 60,000 km of foot plate experience for promotion to the post of Loco Pilot (Goods) in the pay band of ₹9,300-₹34,800 with grade pay of ₹4,200.

However, a letter issued by the Railway Board in 2008 empowered the GM to relax the rule at his discretion in appropriate cases. Since the petitioner had gained only 32,500 km of foot plate experience, she claimed relaxation on a par with her juniors.

Her plea was not considered by the GM and the CAT and hence the present writ petition.

Explaining the reasons for not having gained sufficient experience, she said male loco pilots would be able to earn high amount of experience on foot plate by serving on onward and return trips, while women loco pilots would be generally go on onward trips and then sent back as a passenger with emergency duty pass to return to the headquarters.

The petitioner claimed that she would have also gained enough experience if the administration had provided running room, rest room and accommodation facilities. She also pointed to a cash award received by her for averting an accident during shunting and another award given for efficient performance in train operations.


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