On June 28, 2019, CCI dismissed an information filed by Consumer Educational and Research Society ('IP-1') and its member, Ms. Parul Choudhary ('IP-2') (collectively, referred to as 'IPs'), against Union of India, Ministry of Railways ('MoR') and the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited ('IRCTC') (collectively, referred to as 'Indian Railways') alleging contravention of the provisions of Section 4 of the Act.1
The allegation in the information pertained to Indian Railways abusing its alleged dominant position in the railways sector in India and challenged the ticket refund rules as being arbitrary, unjust and against public interest. The IPs alleged that the rule regarding refund under the Railway Passengers (Cancellation of Tickets and Refund of Fare) Rules, 2015 ('Refund Rules'), empowered the Indian Railways to forfeit the full ticket fare even in cases where the passengers fail to cancel the ticket for reasons attributable solely to the Indian Railways and/or circumstances beyond the control of the passenger.
CCI first noted and agreed that as a result of the statutory and regulatory framework, Indian Railways is dominant in the market of 'transportation of passengers through railways across India', but dismissed the information on the ground that no anti-competitive conduct could be said to have arisen for the allegations made. The Refund Rules have been notified in the Gazette by the Central Government in exercise of its powers under the provisions of the Railways Act, 1989 and if there is deficiency in service on part of Indian Railways, IPs can initiate action before an appropriate forum. CCI however mentioned that the Indian Railways may consider reviewing the existing rules of refund of fare and make them more consumer friendly.
1. Case no. 20 of 2019
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