A Kota-based man has won his five-year fight to get a Rs 35 refund from the Railways, helping in the process nearly 3 lakh people who were in a similar situation.
The Railways has approved Rs 2.43 crore in refunds to 2.98 lakh IRCTC users, said Kota-based engineer Sujeet Swami quoting an RTI reply received by him.
Swami said he filed nearly 50 Right to Information applications and shot off letters to four government departments in his fight to get back Rs 35 charged as service tax despite cancelling his ticket before the GST regime was implemented.
Swami claimed the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation in its reply to his RTI query said 2.98 lakh users — many of whom might have brought multiple tickets — would get refund of Rs 35 on each ticket amounting to a total of Rs 2.43 crore.
"My repeated tweets to demand the refund, tagging the PM, Railway minister, Union minister Anurag Thakur, GST Council and the Finance minister played key role in the approval of refund of Rs 35 to 2.98 lakh users," Swami told PTI.
The 30-year-old engineer had booked a railway ticket from his city to New Delhi in the Golden Temple Mail in April, 2017 to undertake a journey on July 2, a day after the new GST regime came into force.
However, he had cancelled the ticket priced Rs 765 following which he received a refund of Rs 665 with a deduction of Rs 100 instead of Rs 65 against the cancellation. He said the extra amount of Rs 35 was charged to him as service tax even though he had cancelled the ticket prior to the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Swami began his fight to obtain the refund of Rs 35 by sending RTI queries to the Railway and the Ministry of Finance. According to an RTI reply, the IRCTC citing the commercial circular number 43 of the Ministry of Railways, said for tickets booked before the implementation of GST and cancelled after implementation, service tax charged at the time of booking shall not be refunded.
Therefore, Rs 100 (Rs 65 as clerical charge and Rs 35 as service tax) was charged against the cancelled ticket, it said. However, an 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, Swami said.
"So, a sum of Rs 35 will be refunded," the IRCTC had said in its reply to Swami's RTI query. "I, however, received Rs 33 in my bank account on May 1, 2019 with a deduction of Rs 2 as the rounded off value of service tax of Rs 35," Swami said.
Swami's kept on his fight for the next three years to get back Rs 2 and it finally yielded result on Friday last week. According to Swami, a senior IRCTC official informed him that the "the Railway Board has approved the refund (of Rs 35) to all the users (2.98 lakhs) as the process to deposit refund is underway and all the passengers would gradually receive their refund".
"Subsequently on the same day, I also received a mail from IRCTC regarding the refund of Rs 2 which sought the verification of bank account," he said. The RTI reply which came thereafter stated 2.98 lakh users would get refund of Rs 35 on each ticket amounting to total Rs 2.43 corer, Swami said.
"I had sent bank account detail and received the refund of Rs 2 on Monday," he said. "Following the approval of refund of Rs 35 to all users, and adding Rs 100 for my five years of struggle, I have donated Rs 535 to Prime Minister Cares Fund," Swami said."The fight was really long with around 50 RTIs, letters to the Railways, IRCTC, Finance ministry and Service Tax department but eventually I am satisfied as all the users with me would receive refund of Rs 35 amounting to over 2.43 crores," Swami said.