Sunday, December 4, 2022

Karnataka HC directs state govt to hold talks with Uber, Ola to sort out auto fare issue

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The Karnataka High Court has asked the state government to hold another round of talks with the app-based auto-ride hailing providers such as Uber and Ola to try reach an understanding on fares of auto rides booked on their apps.

Uber and Ola moved the court to challenge the state transport department’s notice asking them to stop accepting auto-rides on their apps forthwith.

Both companies have a licence issued under Karnataka On-Demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules, 2016.

The government maintained before the court that the licence allows them to offer only taxi services in a motor cab having a maximum six-member passenger seating capacity, excluding the driver, and that it does not include autos.

The ride-hailing firms contested this, saying the aggregator rules very much covered autos as well.

“We argued that the law clearly says vehicles that can carry up to six passengers can be aggregated…that can mean auto as well and not just cars,” said an executive from one of the aggregators.

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The state argued that both companies had agreed with the government that autos cannot be aggregated in the meeting held on October 11 between the aggregators and transport department officials.

But lawyers representing Uber and Ola said the documents of the proceedings of the meeting do not have the signatures of company officials.

ET reported on October 12 that ride-hailing companies were asked by the government to file a request with the transport department to come up with a new policy for aggregating autos, similar to the bike taxi policy introduced in 2021.

Ola was the first to approach the court on Wednesday, followed by Uber on Thursday, sources said.

High Court judge Justice MG Shukure Kamal, after hearing both sides, directed the transport department to hold another round of talks and explore if they could arrive at a consensus in the interest of the larger public.

The judge adjourned the case to Friday for further hearing.

Karnataka was among the first states in India to regulate firms such as Uber and Ola, introducing formal regulations in the form of the Karnataka On-demand Transportation Technology Aggregator Rules, 2016.

While licence for both Ola and Uber expired in 2021, the firms have applied to renew the licence, which is pending before the transport authorities.

Uber, Ola and Rapido have been at the centre of a storm after they were found to be collected inflated fares from customers who booked auto-rides on their apps in Bengaluru.

ET reported on October 12 that the companies have
continued to operate in Bengaluru despite orders from the government to stop the service.

The aggregators have reduced convenience fee and base fare following the tussle with the government.

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https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-bytes/hc-directs-karnataka-to-hold-talks-with-uber-ola-to-sort-out-auto-fare-issue/articleshow/94843376.cms

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