BENGALURU: Fifteen railway staffers, including nine top officers, have obtained anticipatory bail, fearing arrest in a case relating to the auction of vehicles in the railways’ possession.
The case pertains to the auction of two-wheelers from the parcel office of the City railway station on April 3, June 4 and July 24, 2014.
In August 2014, Express had broken the story of how railway officials were selling vehicles abandoned by owners who couldn’t pay the steep fee for delayed collection.
The parcel office was levying a penalty of Rs 288 a day, and a motorbike owner who couldn’t get the paper work done for over a month had given up on his vehicle since he would have to shell out about Rs 10,000.
“Thirty-three of 49 vehicles were sold during the auction carried out by the Lost Property Office,” said a top railway official. The vehicles were sent to the Lost Property Office from the parking lot and the railway parcel section.
Senior officials who have taken bail are N Ramesh, Senthil Kumar, B Hanumanthappa, Imthiyaz Khan, Venkatesan, Halappa, Syed Mehaboob Pasha, A V Mohan, and K V Gopinath.
With them, Nirmala, Rajashekaran, Selvan, A Baseer Ahmed, J G Jobi Mangalakandan, and Pandurangan have also taken bail.
The Government Railway Police (GRP) alleges all conditions mandated by the Railway Act were flouted in the auctioning.
Vishwanath Naik, Deputy Superintendent of Police, GRP, said, “They have violated rules and sold vehicles without informing the GRP.”
According to railway rules, vehicles abandoned in the parcel office and parking lot can be auctioned only after the railway authorities obtain permission from the GRP and the Regional Transport Office.
Most officials facing charges refused to speak, when contacted for this story. Three claimed they were not guilty, and had only obeyed orders from superiors. A top official said taking anticipatory bail did not imply they were guilty. “Every step of the Railway Act has been adhered to and we are not wrong even by one per cent,” he claimed.
“RTOs did not respond to our repeated letters asking for information,” Naik said.
The sale came to light when police booked a case against a rider for not wearing a helmet.
They sent a penalty notice to the actual owner, a native of Shivamogga, who had lost his vehicle in January 2012.
He demanded to know how the railways had auctioned his bike without his consent, and approached the GRP.
Anil Kumar Agrawal, Divisional Railway Manager, said, “We have informed the Railway Police and RTOs, and published auction notices in newspapers and on the official website.”