Despite repeated drives against touts who illegally sell rail tickets at a premium, the offenders, exploiting loopholes in the law, get away with mere payment of a fine even after being caught as many as six times, officials admit.
“Under the Railways Act, for touting one can only be fined Rs. 5,000 or be imprisoned for a maximum of six months or both,” an official said.
Senior officials insist that though checking has been intensified by the Anti-Fraud Squad at booking centres and reservation counters, on platforms and inside trains, and raids have been conducted across areas under Northern Railway, their helplessness in keeping touts behind bars for long periods has blunted the exercise.
After about 120 preventive checks this month, 74 persons were apprehended and handed over to the Railway Police Force for prosecution, a senior official said: “Northern Railway also organised raids on the premises of authorised and unauthorised ticketing agencies in order to prevent blocking of reservation under fictitious names and subsequent sale of transferred tickets.”
During these checks, 52 touts, seven unauthorised JTBSs [Jansadharan Ticket Booking Sewak] were prosecuted under Sections 143/144 of the Railway Act and two passengers were found travelling on transferred tickets.
But, in the end, nothing substantive came out of this as the touts were back at their business once they came out on bail after paying the fine, the official said.
“We need tighter provisions and punishment for frequent defaulters. I think the law should be made stricter for the touts who have started taking it for granted,” said another senior railway official.