The Railways Act has been incorporated on 3rd June, 1989. This Act has been established to consolidate and amend the laws relating to railways that are expedient. This Act was introduced to maintain an efficient administration in Indian Railways.
The Central Government with the notification in the Official Gazette shall constitute our Railways into several Zonal Railways as much as it is necessary. The notification shall contain the name and the headquarters of such zonal railways and the areas to which it has jurisdiction to perform the duties in pursuance to this Act. This type of severability of powers is due to perform effective administration in our Indian Railways.
These zonal railways shall engage in research and development, designing, construction or production of rolling stock, and such other railway functions as specified under this Act. The Central Government shall at anytime constitute or abolish any number of zonal railways or even make any number of modifications or alterations in the name, headquarters or areas of jurisdictions, etc, as and when necessary with the notifications in the Official Gazette.
The Central Government shall appoint a General Manager in order to act as a superintendence and control over their zonal railways and such other person as a Commissioner of railway safety. The Commissioner shall inspect any railway to determine whether it is fit to open for public carriage of passengers and report the same to the Central Government as specified under this Act, they submit the periodical reports on stocks, make necessary inquiry in case of any railway accidents to the Central Government and discharge such other duties as prescribed under the provisions of this Act. The railway administration shall provide all assistance to the Commissioner to exercise its duties and powers as conferred under this Act. The Commissioner shall prepare annual reports and such other reports as it is necessary and submit to the Central Government and the Central Government in turn submits all these reports before the Houses of Parliament for further funds and assistance to act in pursuance to this Act.
The Railway administration has the necessary powers to acquire any land for the purpose of railway business or activities unless it is inconsistent with any other laws in force for the time being as specified under the provisions of this Act. The Central Government shall have powers to cease any activities of the railway administration at any time as it deems necessary to do so to act in pursuance to this Act. No suit shall be initiated against the railway administration in any acts done in pursuance to this Act.
The railway administration shall make a tender payment in case of any damages or loss caused by them due to their negligence and too if it is proved before the Tribunals or Courts as specified under this Act. The railway administration shall easily be discharged from any liabilities until if there arise any inconsistency to any laws in force for the time being. They also make any sort of arrangements to accommodate as owner by continuous occupancy of adjoining lands to railways unless and until there is a stoppage in such occupancies by any higher authorities.
The railway administration shall even acquire the works or lands of the State Governments or the Local authorities to perform in an efficient manner in pursuance to this Act. In case of any discrepancies arise between the State Government and the railway administration, the issues shall be taken towards the Central Government and who’s Order or directions shall be final. The railway administration shall not do any activities or acquire any land without the prior approval of the Central Government as specified under the provisions of this Act.
The Central Government shall obtain a suggestion of the Commissioner of safety before sanctioning to open railways or any stations, re-building of bridges or introduction of new electric traction, etc, in any place. The Central Government shall provide any number of rules and regulations for effective functioning in pursuance to this Act even in case of fixing the rates for carriages, goods and such other materials used under railways.
The Central Government shall constitute a Railway Rates Tribunal for discharging its functions as specified under the provisions of this Act. The Railway Rates Tribunal shall have the powers as that of a Civil Courts as per Civil Procedural Code, 1908 and in some cases it even attains the power of the Criminal Courts as per the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The decision of the Tribunal shall be final if it is taken by the majority of the members sitting to dispose the case. The Tribunal shall have powers to make any rules with the approval of the Central Government for effective functioning in pursuance to this Act.
There are several other provisions that speak in detail about the Carriage of Goods, Carriage of Passengers, Accidents and special provision on Goods booked to a notified stations, etc. The provisions of this Act shall also include Duties of the railway administrations as Carriers, Liabilities of railway administration in case of injury or death to the passengers due to railway accidents, regulations on works and Penal Provisions. This Act has been amended depending upon the need and effective functioning of railway administrations.
by C.Srivenkatesh Prabhu.