Competition Commission of India (CCI):The Bench comprising of Sudhir Mital, Chairperson; Augustine Peter and U.C. Nahta, Members, dealt with a case against IRCTC and Ministry of Railways for contravention of the provisions of Section 4 of the Competition Act, 2002 in regard to“rounding off actual base fares to next higher multiple of Rs 5.”
In the present case, informant filed a case against Ministry of Railways and IRCTC (Opposite Parties) for contravention of Section 4 of Competition Act, 2002. According to the facts and submissions filed by the informant, it was averred that as per the pricing policy of OPs published on its official website, rounding off to the next higher multiple of Rs 5 was included in the base fare. Further, was stated that OPs hold a dominant position in the relevant market as they are the only players and are empowered to determine the pricing of e-tickets. Due to the statutory and regulatory framework, the dominance of the OPs is indisputable.
The Commission referred to its earlier decisions in Sharad Kumar Jhunjhunwala v. Union of India, 2014 SCC OnLine CCI 31; Ismail Zabiulla v. Union of India, Case No. 49 of 2014; Yaseen Bala v. Union of India, Case No. 89 of 2014; and stated that due to the statutory and regulatory framework, the dominance of Indian Railways in this market is undisputable. OPs were unable to convince the Commission as to why the policy of rounding off of actual base fare to next higher multiple of Rs 5 is applicable to sale of online tickets, when it may be possible to transfer even one paisa electronically.
Thus, the Commission held that the practice adopted by the OPs prima facie would amount to an imposition of the unfair condition in the market for sale of rail tickets in India, particularly for online booking, contravening the provision of Section 4 (2)(a)(i) of the Competition Act. Accordingly, Director General was directed to cause an investigation into this matter and submit the report within 60 days of this order. [Meet Shah v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine CCI 88, Order dated 09-11-2018]