The primary duty of a member/officer of the RPF is to safeguard and protect railway property. Only such powers of arrest and inquiry have been conferred by the 1966 Act on members of the RPF as are necessary and incidental to the efficient and effective discharge of the basic duty of watch and ward. Unlike a police officer who has a general power under the Code to investigate all cognizable cases the power of an officer of the RPF to make an inquiry is restricted to offences under the 1966 Act.
An officer of the RPF making an inquiry under the 1966 Act, cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be called an “officer in charge of a police station” within the meaning of Sections 173 and 190(b) of the Code.
From the comparative study of the relevant provisions of the 1966 Act and the Code, it is abundantly clear that an officer of the RPF making an inquiry under Section 8(1) of the 1966 Act does not possess several important attributes of an officer in charge of a police station conducting an investigation under Chapter XIV of the Code. The character of the “inquiry” is different from that of an “investigation” under the Code. The official status and powers of an officer of the Force in the matter of inquiry under the 1966 Act differ in material aspects from those of a police officer conducting an investigation under the Code.