New Delhi: Indian Railways and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) are under scanner for allegedly abusing their dominant position by charging higher prices than actual base fare on the sale of e-tickets.

Two customers --  Meet Shah and Anand Ranpara from Ahmedabad and Rajkot, respectively, had complained against the Ministry of Railways and the IRCTC, following which the Competition Commission of India has ordered a probe.

As per the complainants, consumers are completely dependent upon the Ministry of Railways and IRCTC and have no choice as there is no substitute to the services offered by them. 

It was alleged that the two entities round off the actual base fare to the nearest higher multiple of Rs 5 to arrive at the total base fare, and the practice amounted to an imposition of unfair condition in the market for sale of rail tickets in India, particularly for online booking. 

After finding prima facie evidence of competition norm violations, the CCI in an order dated November 9 has directed its investigation arm -- the Director General -- to conduct an investigation into the matter. 

The probe would also look into the possible role of individuals related to the matter. 

"At this juncture, it appears that opposite parties (Ministry of Railways and IRCTC) are rounding off the actual base fares for the online bookings without any plausible justification for the same," the fair trade regulator noted. 

It was also alleged that the entities rounded off the base fares for each e-ticket separately even though more than one tickets were booked from the same account and allegedly earned around Rs 18 crore through the practice, at the cost of consumers. 

The two entities, however, in their submission said that due to taking and giving change amount, the transaction time for issue of tickets would also increase. Therefore, it was decided by them to round off the fares to reduce transaction time and serve the passengers expeditiously. 

(With agency inputs)