The Indian Railways is considering amending the Railway Act of 1989 to curb the increasing count of online ticket scams. A provision to punish the fraudsters in e-tickets will get included in the law.
Ticket brokers have surprised the Railway Board by making a dent in the IRCTC train ticket booking software. Railways have launched a nationwide campaign against it. The campaign has been launched following complaints received against the sellers of black tickets by booking tickets for Special Rajdhani Express running from May 12 and 100 pairs of time table based trains starting from June 1. There were complaints of misappropriation in taking tickets for these trains. After the complaints by different groups got registered, an investigation was launched by the officials of RPF, in which several people have been arrested after busting one of their gangs. Much shocking information was received from the ticket scammers during the interrogation. To deal with such E-ticketing fraud, Indian Railways is also considering an amendment in the Railways Act.
Proposals of RPF for Amending the Railways Act of 1989
The Indian Railways is considering amending the Railways Act of 1989 to curb the increasing count of online ticket scams. A provision to punish the fraudsters in e-tickets will be included in the law. Sources have said that in the proposed amendment, a suggestion has been made, through which the fraudsters in e-tickets will be fined more than two lakh rupees. However, there is no suggestion of punishing the culprits for more than three years in this proposal. E-ticket fraud has not been considered in the present Act. But, there is a provision to punish the brokers who try to buy or sell tickets illegally. According to the Act, the culprit can be punished with a jail term of up to a maximum of three years or pay a fine of up to ten thousand rupees or both.
Railways E-Ticket Scams Increasing Rapidly in the Last Few Months
A source in the ministry said that the cases of such fraud are increasing; hence the need for a new provision has been felt. The Railway Protection Force has proposed this new provision. It will be included after amending the Act. This provision is yet to be approved by the Railways Board. In the last few days, much shocking information came about the railway ticket scam. The mastermind of this fraud also reached the Chief of the Railway Police Force. The accused, in a message sent to the RPF chief, claimed that there are too many bugs in the IT security system of the railway. The mastermind living in Dubai had suggested RPF pay him a salary of two lakh rupees a month to remove all the security loopholes of the IRCTC website.
The main Accused Gave the Advice to IRCTC
The main accused, Ashraf, is currently in Dubai and has said that catching some people like him will not end this business. Ashraf has said that capturing a few people will not help in curbing the e-ticketing fraud. A few days later, some others will set up a similar syndicate. Another accused, Hamid, claims that the IRCTC train schedule system has a lot of security loopholes, and more people will develop such illegal software.
An Indian Software Company Also Found Connected With the Racket
The investigating agencies are also investigating an Indian software company in the e-ticketing fraud case. RPF DG said that we suspect this company is also associated with the racket. The company has also been involved in money laundering in Singapore. According to RPF, Ashraf is a supporter of Tablik-e-Jamaat operating in Pakistan.
Steps Taken by Indian Railways to Stop the E-Ticket Frauds/Scams
To prevent the activities of the unscrupulous elements or touts in the booking of e-tickets and Tatkal tickets, several measures have been deployed by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) including:
• Indian Railways imposed restrictions of only 2 Tatkal tickets per user in one day.
• Railways have launched Random Security Question for Tatkal ticket bookings.
• Limit of only one Tatkal ticket per day per train to retail service providers (agents).
• A rule has been set for the creation of only one IRCTC User ID on a single mobile
number and email ID.
• Indian Railways imposed the limitations of booking 6 Railway tickets by an individual user in a month. The limit is now increased to 12 railway tickets per month. In case the users have linked their IRCTC user ID with their Aadhaar number, at least one of the passengers in the list can be verified through the Aadhaar ID.
• There is a restriction of only one booking in one user login session except for return or onward journey between 08 PM and 12 PM.
• In IRCTC ticket booking, the dynamic CAPTCHA has been introduced at three places of registration, login, and booking page to check fraudulent bookings done through automation software by ticket scammers.
• Checks on the minimum time to enter passenger details. Users need to check CAPTCHA at the time of booking their e-tickets.
• The IRCTC authorized agents would not be able to book tickets during the first fifteen minutes of opening of the Advance Reservation Period (ARP) booking and Tatkal booking.
• The RPF conducts regular investigations against persons or agencies involved in unauthorized carrying on of the business of procuring and supplying railway tickets. The offenders are being booked under section 143 of the Railways Act.
• Use of PRABAL query-based application for verification of IRCTC IDs to detect the cases of illegal E-ticketing with follow-up action.
Recently, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) of Indian Railways arrested 59 people from across the country in February in a significant action in the case of using fake software for reservation in railways. In fact, after the fraud of crores of tickets through the MAC software, RPF launched a nationwide campaign against the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) brokers on February 11 and February 12, through which several brokers were caught in the selling of fake tickets.
As part of the campaign, 319 brokers were arrested from across the country in just two days. The ID of 317 has been blacklisted so far. The tickets worth Rupees 37.86 lakh were blocked through which the journey was to be done in the coming days. At the same time, more than one crore and nineteen lakh tickets were seized. In the police investigation, three brokers had admitted that fake software was used to book tickets.