A Delhi court Monday issued summons to app-based cab service providers, including Ola and Uber, for allegedly charging “excess fares” from customers. Metropolitan Magistrate Abhilash Malhotra asked the company to send “authorised representatives” on the next date of hearing, December 11. The court was hearing a complaint against ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd, which runs Ola and Uber India Systems Pvt Ltd.
The complaint was filed by NGO Nyayabhoomi through its secretary Rakesh Agarwal. The court said the clauses of the City Taxi Scheme (CTS), 2015 mandate that only fares “prescribed” by the transport department can be charged. The court also cited a High Court order of 2016, which had “directed” taxi aggregators or operators not to charge fares more than the “cap” stipulated in its notification.
“Prima facie, it is clear that excess fare has been charged by the respondent companies in violation of Motor Vehicles (MV) Act notification dated June 20, 2013 as well as CTS,” the court said in its order, dated July 31. “Accordingly, prima facie of permit violation under Section 192A of MV Act is made out.”
The NGO had sought an FIR, alleging that by providing taxi and autorickshaw services, the companies were violating permit conditions, which amounted to commission of offences under sections 66 and 192A of the MV Act. In its order, the court stated that the respondents are running “public service vehicles” on a contract carriage basis, and the respondents are acting as aggregators who decide the drivers, customer app, fares, SOS protocols and other administrative issues.
The court said that CTS is framed under the MV Act, which mandates that an agent who solicits the customers for public service vehicles is required to obtain a licence under the Act. However, the court stated, “It is alleged that no licence under MV Act has been obtained by the respondents for running the public service vehicles in Delhi, which is in violation of CTS and MV Act.”
According to the court, the CTS mandates that taxi drivers have public service vehicle badges and the taxis have an electronic digital fare meter on the front panel. According to the court order, it is alleged that none of the respondents are “ensuring” these things. “It is alleged that the digital fare meter is not working and the fare is calculated through the app. It is submitted that during transit, the customer is not able to ascertain the fare and the fare is calculated and informed via app to the customer only on conclusion of journey,” the order stated.