Rail commuter busts phoney-food-bill racket

Feb 15, 2012, 07:36 IST | Nivedita Dargalkar

Finds workers at Jan Ahar cafeteria at Mumbai Central terminus reissuing same receipts to customers and pocketing railways money

Finds workers at Jan Ahar cafeteria at Mumbai Central terminus reissuing same receipts to customers and pocketing railways money

If you have a grouse about the quality of food at railway eateries, here's something else to watch out for the next time you visit one. An alert commuter busted a fake-bill racket involving employees of the railways-operated Jan Ahar cafeteria at Mumbai Central terminus on Monday afternoon.

Chew on that! The Jan Ahar cafeteria at Mumbai Central rail terminus.
Pics/Sunil Tiwari

The traveller Bhavesh Patel caught assistant manager Ram Shukla (48) and delivery counter representative Piyush Bansal (58) red-handed on his mobile camera, issuing fake receipts to customers and pocketing railway money.

Once bitten...
This is not the first time Patel has apprehended railway cafeteria employees duping customers and the organisation. In August last year at CST, he had similarly nailed and got suspended a cashier at a railway-operated eatery, who was overcharging customers and usurping the extra cash.

On Monday, Patel was on his way to a meeting at Borivli, when he halted at the cafeteria for a quick bite. Due to the August incident, Shukla, who was at the counter, recognised Patel and handed over a proper receipt to him. However, while seated at the eatery, Patel noticed that the same bills were being circulated and handed over to customers again and again.

As per the cafeteria system, after a receipt is issued to a customer at the cash counter, he has to surrender it at the delivery counter, where the representative then hands over the food item to the buyer.

All wrong
"I grew suspicious because of two things. At the counter, the cashier must hand over two bills -- one for the customer and the other for the food counter that is used for accounting. However, the cashier gave me only one bill, which was to be handed over at the food counter. So, I don't get to take home a copy," he said.
"Moreover, when I went to the delivery counter to collect my order, the representative took the receipt and kept it aside without making a tear or cut mark to indicate it has been used," he added.

Patel then decided to sit back and observe the goings-on in the cafeteria for some time.

"While waiting there I noticed that the bills collected at the delivery counter were being circulated back to the cashier for being reused. The accountant merely wrote the code for the food item ordered on the blank part behind the printed receipt and presented it to the customer."

Patel recorded 30 minutes of footage on his cellphone and gave a call to Mumbai Central GRP.

"Shukla was so shrewd that he kept these fake receipts in his shirt pocket while the genuine bills were placed on his table in order to avoid being caught by customers," added Patel.

The GRP then took Shukla and Bansal into custody for further investigation and seized the fake receipts and money they were carrying on them. They have been released, since an FIR is yet to be filed in the matter.

Senior inspector Shivaji Shinde of Mumbai Central GRP said, "We have confiscated 11 fake receipts that were reissued by Shukla. We have also seized 17 other bills from the delivery counter. Rs 3,600 has also been recovered from Shukla's pockets. We will be sending a formal request to the railways to determine whether Shukla made an official entry for this money in the account register or not."

"We will send an official report of the statements of Patel, Bansal and Shukla to the railways. Since both the accused are rail employees and the crime has taken place in railway premises, in a railways-operated cafeteria, it is the railways that is authorised to lodge an FIR against Shukla and Bansal," he added.

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