A Delhi court Wednesday pulled up Uber for allegedly operating without valid licenses and issued a fresh notice to its co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick, a month after the Delhi government challaned him for operating as a travel agent without government licences.
“Uber has been operating without valid licences, charging its own rates, while other cab companies are following government rules. This gives Uber an unfair advantage over others,” said Metropolitan Magistrate Vaibhav Mehta.
Uber’s counsel Susmit Pushkar said, “Uber is following all government regulations, including the Delhi government-prescribed rates of Rs 23 per km for radio cabs.” Pushkar added, “Uber cabs run under All India Tourist Permit (AITP), which comes under the purview of the central government, while the challans were issued for an offence which comes under the state government’s jurisdiction. There are no clear rules governing AITP-holding cabs with taxi aggregators like Uber under Section 93 (of the Motor Vehicles Act).”
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On May 10, the Delhi government issued challans to Uber’s top brass after it impounded 13 cabs flouting the government’s surge pricing ban. The challans were issued to American entrepreneur Kalanick, Uber’s India president, Ankit Jain, and its North India general manager, Gagan Bhatia, under section 93 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 for illegally operating as travel agents and soliciting customers for their cab services. The Dwarka court took cognisance of the challans and issued three notices asking them to appear before it on Wednesday.
When the magistrate asked about the absence of Kalanick and the two senior Uber officials, Pushkar said, “The notices were sent to the Uber company office in Gurgaon and not personally to each of them. And the individuals were not personally agents canvassing for customers. They have nothing to do with the cabs impounded because the cabs are operating under Uber, the company. Some of the individuals are out of the country at the moment.”
The magistrate observed, “But the three are directly running and managing the operations of Uber.” The court issued fresh notices to the offices as well as residences of Kalanick, Jain and Bhatia and adjourned the hearing to July 23 after Uber sought time to give written submissions and prepare its case.