After two years of arduous attempts, a Kota-based engineer 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 GST.
The ticket was booked in April 2017, before the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), and subsequently cancelled. It was booked for a journey on July 2, 2017, a day after the new tax regime came into force.
Sujeet Swami, 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.
Swami had booked a ticket from Kota to New Delhi in the Golden Temple Mail in April, 2017, for a journey on July 2. As the ticket, priced at Rs 765, was wait listed, he cancelled it and received Rs 665 as refund.
"Rs 100 was deducted instead of Rs 65 against cancellation of a wait listed ticket. I have been following up the case since 2017 and was given only assurances that the amount would be refunded," Swami said.
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.
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) in its reply to the RTI filed by Swami, 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.
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 had said in its reply to Swami's RTI query.
Swami received Rs 33 in his bank account on May 1, 2019.
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.
"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," Swami told news agency PTI.
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.
However, 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.