Railways must ensure that calls to landlines are handled properly
CUG numbers are not publicly available although invoices are paid from the “public account”
The Ministry of Railways has asked the general managers of all zone railways, production units and other establishments across the country to regularly update the online telephone directory and ensure that calls made to landlines are handled correctly.
The notice published a few days ago follows an order from the Central Information Commission directing the Railways Council that fixed line numbers provided in the public domain must be handled properly.
The case arises out of a petition filed by Anil Kumar Jain, who wrote to the director (telecoms), Ministry of Railways, seeking to know under the right to information law whether the Closed User Group (CUG) bills mobile phone numbers used by the Chairman of the Railway Council; Personal Assistant (PA) to the Minister in charge of Railways; PA to the Minister of State for Railways; Member, Traffic; director, coaches; and others, were paid from the public account, and also asked for details of the numbers.
Responding to his plea, the Public Information Officer of the Railway Commission replied that CUG invoices were paid from the public account of the Ministry of Railways. He said section 4 (1) (b) (ix) of the Act required every public authority to publish a directory of its officers and employees. In accordance with this provision, the ministry had posted the contact details of the president, the Council of Railways and others on the online telephone directory at http://dir.railnet.gov.in.
However, dissatisfied with the response, Mr Jain appealed saying he had not received complete information and that the updated online phone book only showed landline numbers and not numbers. CUG.
Not for the public
While the railways argued that ‘CUG numbers are not intended for the general public, these numbers are intended to be used only for internal communications’, the petitioner claimed that neither the officials concerned had taken the alternate numbers or replied to e-mails provided in the public domain.
After hearing from both parties, the Central Information Commission noted that an appropriate response according to the records had been provided to the petitioner and advised the railways to ensure that the public domain landline numbers were correctly. supported.