Indian Railways and IRCTC Are Not Guilty of Abuse of Dominance But Services Charges on E-Ticketing Ought to Be Done Away

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A fight between the ordinary passengers and the Railways had been ensuing in Sharad Kumar Jhunjunwala v. Union of India, Ministry of Railways, which finally ended in favour of the government. Itthe allegation was one of inter alia unfair, discriminatory and arbitrary practice by the Railway and IRCTC in Passenger Reservation System (PRS) by imposing service-charges on e-ticketing and not refunding it on cancellation, by charging additionally on booking through agents, by making the passengers pay gateway transactions charge, by charging higher price on tatkal and premium quota etc. The Competition Commission of India, in its four versus one majority order found the same to be baseless and misconceived in view of the voluntary nature of online booking system and booking through agents and the service charge on e-tickets being used for administrative purposes and other development costs incurred by the institution. Moreover, gateway transanction was levied by banks as per RBI guidelines and not by Railways, non-refund of service charge was to meet operational cost by IRCTC. It ruled that Tatakal charges were part of parliament-approved Railway Budget and compensated for Railway losses and not allowing private players to provide means via e-catering was justifiable under Railways Act, 1989. However, the majority viewed that the concerned authority may do away with service charges and other unnecessary restrictions on booking of e-tickets provided its revenues are not majorly affected.

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