Amidst the ongoing tussle between RailYatri and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) related to unauthorised ticket booking, the Indian railway catering arm has locked horns with RailYatri and TravelKhana over online food ordering services.
Citing unknown sources, a Business Standard report said that IRCTC has approached two lower courts in Karkarduma and Rohini alleging that the online food ordering services provided by these companies are illegal.
This revelation comes after it was reported that RailYatri had applied for IRCTC license to continue its train ticket booking services. On April 05, the Delhi High Court had ruled that RailYatri’s train ticket booking service is unauthorised.
In 2017, IRCTC had filed a complaint alleging that the company was providing illegal bookings and meals on trains. IRCTC accused the company of violating the rules as the startup is not registered with IRCTC as a principal service provider (PSP) or a retail service provider (RSP) SP.
The Delhi High Court acknowledged that railyatri.in was neither a PSP nor an RSP and has no privity of contract with IRCTC.
Following this, IRCTC now looks to question both RailYatri and Delhi-based TravelKhana for providing illegal food services. According to the IRCTC framework, no organisation can offer food to train travellers unless they are appointed as an aggregator by IRCTC.
“The matter related to food services is currently sub-judice for the last 18-20 months and hence it will be inappropriate to comment specifically on this. We clarified our commitment to work within the IRCTC framework and we have already progressed in that direction. RailYatri is a law-abiding company and is committed to the development of new technology to improve inter-city travel experience in India. All our current and past activities are within the framework of e-commerce guidelines defined by the ministry of commerce,” Swapnil Tripathi, CBO at Railyatri told Inc42.
Apart from RailYatri, foodtech startup TravelKhana is also under the scrutiny. The case comes at a time when the startup is already facing trouble in its business over angel tax-related concerns.
In February, it was reported that TravelKhana is facing an existential threat owing to an angel tax order. On February 5, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) had not only seized all of the startup’s money — amounting to INR 33 Lakh — but also frozen its bank accounts.
At that time, while speaking with Inc42, Siddarth Pai, founding partner of 3One4 Capital who is a member of the working committee to resolve angel tax issue said that the angel tax crackdown has left TravelKhana with no money.
The issue related to food delivery comes at a time when speculations are rife that IRCTC is planning to join hands with food delivery companies such as UberEats, Zomato, Foodpanda, and Swiggy to provide meals in trains.
Meanwhile, according to reports, the railway organisation has partnered with online food delivery companies TRAPIGO and Shree Mahalakshmi Swayam Sahayata Bachat Ghat (Ratnagiri) regional or local cuisines to train passengers. The users can place the orders through IRCTC’s e-catering website.
The pilot is now live in Nagpur and set to expand in other cities in the North-Central belt such as New Delhi, Itarsi, Jhansi, and Bhopal.