Train journeys worth Rs 2 crore were undertaken illegally by misusing a special booking facility extended to the Army in Lucknow Cantonment, a railway investigation has found.
Indian Railways has referred the ticket scam to the CBI and the Army is carrying out its own internal probe.
Using a modus operadi unique to the system through which Army personnel book tickets in a special arrangement with Railways, defence officials managing the ticket counter in Lucknow cantonment allegedly tricked the software into issuing train journeys meant for Army personnel.
The case documents referred to the CBI place the blame on corruption by defence personnel manning the passenger reservation counter in Lucknow. Following meetings with Army personnel, it has also been decided that all such special counters operating in the country would be phased out in about six months and the entire ticketing requirement of the Army would be done online, putting an end to physical tickets for these concessional journeys.
Railway probe has found that those manning the counter tricked the booking system by generating a PNR number in Passenger Reservation System as “zero value ticket” by feeding a fictitious ticket number. In the established system agreed to by both Railways and the Army, specific journey details with PNR are printed on what is called pre-bought tickets which are available in the Army counters.
In this case, print command was given by PRS operator but the same was not allowed to be be printed by switching off the printer.
Thus the ticket stationery was saved as partially or fully blank. Thereafter, journey details on ticket and fare were handwritten on the blank ticket stationery and the official seal of PRS Lucknow Cantonment was put on it and sold to outsiders. “The amount was pocketed by the staff manning the counter,” said a senor Railway officer. “Our probe found over 7,000 such tickets were issued between December 2016 and December 2017.”
The Army is also conducting its own probe in Lucknow to fix responsibility for the scam. “All I can say is that the probe by the Army is on. I cannot share any more details,” Colonel Maneesh Singh, probing the matter, told The Indian Express.
Following several meetings with Army personnel and internal deliberations, Railways referred the matter to the CBI as it believes the scope of the scam could be bigger than it appears, sources said. “Since the fraud committed has wide ramifications and is… criminal in nature… related to corruption, forgery and breach of trust, and involve personnel over whom Railways has no jurisdiction, the case is referred to your office for further investigation,” Railways has written to the CBI.
Policymakers in Railways have decided to migrate the entire system of booking by military personnel on the e-ticketing platform, doing away with physical ticket counters. Taking inputs from the Army, Railways has also decided to incorporate added facilities in the e-ticketing system, officials said.