A nine-year legal battle with the Indian Railways in which a city resident fought for being overcharged Rs 60 towards service tax on a rail booking has finally borne fruit.
Sunil Kapoor of Civil Lines was overcharged when he booked tickets through Rail Travellers Service Agents (RTSA) of the Indian Railways based in Ludhiana in 2007.
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has penalised Indian Railways, IRCTC group general manager, Ferozepur ADRM, Ludhiana Railway Station superintendent and Vandana Travel Service, finding them guilty of unfair trade practices. They have been directed to pay Rs 6,060 towards compensation, litigation costs and refund to the complainant.
Initially he took up the matter with the railways, but when the complaint was not addressed, he moved the consumer forum three years ago.
In his complaint, Kapoor stated that he had filled a form for four journey-cum-reservation e-tickets for sleeper class at Vandana Travels on June 6, 2007 by giving Rs 400 in cash as advance.
The tickets were to be booked for three persons from Ludhiana to Delhi and return journey ticket for one person from Delhi to Ludhiana.
When the complainant went to collect the tickets, he was asked to deposit Rs 336 — Rs 120 (Rs 30 per head) as service tax and Rs 216 as token money — even though prevalent service tax on that date was Rs 15 per ticket.
Kapoor made several complaints, including a written a complaint to the railway minister, following which a fine of Rs 800 was issued to the travel agency.
In its order, the forum stated that even if the travel agency has been fined Rs 800, the departmental proceedings stands on different footing than consumer forum’s proceedings.
“Charging extra service tax at the time of issuance of tickets is a malpractice, which amounts to unfair trade practice. And the agency has charged Rs 60 extra from the complainant,” said the forum, while dismissing the railways’ claim that they were not liable for any agent’s mistake.
“Keeping in view the fact that the complainant pursued the case for three years by writing different letters to different railway authorities, he is entitled to refund of an excess amount of Rs 60 charged from him, compensation of 5,000 for mental pain and sufferings and litigation cost of Rs 1,000,” the forum said.