Today is the world of Digitisation and Indian Railway has adopted it completely. Due to the digitisation, it is very easy for us to book tickets online sitting at home. Not only booking, but the cancellation of process is also very easy. Just cancel the tickets and you will get your money back in your accounts within 5-6 days. And, you all must be aware of it. Unfortunately, a Kota-based engineer had a bitter experience after he cancelled his Railway tickets.
After two years of relentless efforts, a Kota-based engineer named Sujeet Swami finally received Rs 33 as refund from the Indian Railways which charged him the amount as service tax despite him cancelling the ticket prior to the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Notably, the ticket was booked in April 2017 before the implementation of GST and subsequently cancelled. The ticket was booked from Kota to New Delhi in the Golden Temple Mail for a journey on July 2, 2017, a day after the new tax regime came into force. As the ticket, priced at Rs 765, was in waiting, he cancelled it and received Rs 665 as refund.
Swami said, "Rs 100 was deducted instead of Rs 65 against cancellation of a waiting ticket. I have been following up the case since 2017 and was given only assurances that the amount would be refunded."
Importantly, the extra amount of Rs 35 was charged to him as service tax, even though he cancelled the ticket prior to the implementation of GST.
In its to the RTI filed by Swami, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) said that as per the commercial circular number 43 of the Ministry of Railways, for tickets booked before the implementation of GST and cancelled after implementation, service tax charged at the time of booking shall not be refunded. “So, Rs 100 (Rs 65 as clerical charge and Rs 35 as service tax) was charged against the cancelled ticket,” it added.
The RTI reply further said it was later decided that for tickets booked before July 1, 2017, and cancelled, the total amount of service tax charged at the time of booking shall be refunded. "So, a sum of Rs. 35 will be refunded," the IRCTC noted.
Finally, Swami received Rs 33 in his bank account on May 1, 2019. However, the The 30-year-old engineer had been fighting the battle to obtain a refund of Rs 35 from the IRCTC for the cancellation of a Kota-Delhi train ticket but received the amount after deduction of Rs 2.
He had earlier moved a petition in Lok Adalat in April 2018, which, he said, was disposed of in January 2019, saying that the matter was out of its jurisdiction. Talking to PTI, Swami said, "I kept following the matter through RTIs. It was a long battle I had to fight. My RTIs were transferred 10 times from one department to another from December 2018 till April end. Finally, I have received Rs 33 in bank account."
He said that instead of compensating him for the harassment caused, the IRCTC deducted Rs 2 from the refund amount. "I will follow the case again as the IRCTC had said it will refund Rs 35 as per its commercial circular number 49," Swami said.
Interestingly, he is not the only person affected. Another RTI filed by him showed that there were over 9 lakh passengers who booked their tickets before implementation of GST and cancelled them between July 1 to July 11, when the service tax was charged. "The total service tax charged from these passengers amounts to Rs. 3.34 crore. Most of the passengers did not even know about it and must have forgotten," Swami said, quoting the reply to his RTI.