The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has dismissed a complaint against Indian Railways and IRCTC regarding a refund of fare.
"The Commission is of the opinion that there exists no prima facie case" warranting an investigation into the matter, CCI said while dismissing the case against Indian Railways (IR) and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC).
"At the same time, the Commission feels that Indian Railways may consider a review of the existing rules of refund of fare and make the same more consumer-friendly so that the passengers are not inconvenienced due to the deficiency in services on its part, including delays on account of running the trains," CCI said.
The ruling came on a complaint filed by Consumer Educational and Research Society (CERS) and Parul Choudhary alleging abuse of dominant position by IR and IRCTC.
According to the order, CERS is a society and a public charitable trust devoted to the promotion and protection of consumer interest through complaint handling, and legal research, among others, and Parul is a member of CERS.
Parul was aggrieved as the train in which she and her family were traveling from Patna to New Delhi in 2016 reached New Delhi late by 13 hours at 9 pm as a result, she and her family missed the Ahmedabad-bound Rajdhani train, since the said train had left New Delhi at its scheduled departure time of 07.55 pm.
Parul sought a refund of Rs 10,000 for tickets and was informed that no refund was possible as the tickets were supposed to be canceled at least four hours before the scheduled departure.
The said rule gives arbitrary power to IR and IRCTC to forfeit/retain the full ticket fare even though the passenger fails to cancel the ticket before the stipulated time due to reason attributable solely to Indian Railways, Parul alleged.
She further alleged that the rule does not take into consideration the cases where the passenger is not in a position to cancel the ticket before the stipulated time, due to circumstance beyond the control of the passenger.
The CCI noted that due to the statutory and regulatory framework, the dominance of Indian Railways in the market of transportation of passengers through railways across India is not disputed, CCI said.
In the face of the existence of statutory rules to deal with the grievance of informants (Parul and CERS), no anti-competitive conduct can be said to have arisen in the present case, warranting an investigation into the matter, the CCI noted.
"If there is a deficiency in service on the part of IR and IRCTC, it is for the informants to initiate proceedings before an appropriate forum," CCI said in an order dated June 28.
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