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Ola, Uber operating illegally, can’t overcharge:AAP govt to HC

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New Delhi: “Unlicensed” cab aggregators like Ola and Uber cannot overcharge in the name of ‘surge price’ or ‘peak time charge’ and they were operating “illegally” in the national capital, Delhi government alleged today.

“The alleged unlicensed aggregators namely Ola and Uber are operating illegally as their applications for license were rejected by the transport department vide order dated June 28, 2015,” AAP government’s transport department said in an affidavit in the Delhi High Court.

“Not only the app based companies are unlicensed but they are also not allowed to charge more than prescribed rates of fare in the shape of ‘surge price’ or ‘peak time charge’ and punitive actions are being taken against violators by the enforcement teams of the department and Delhi traffic police is also being requested to stop illegal operations by these app based operators,” it said.

The government’s response came on a plea filed by Magic Sewa Pvt Ltd which has alleged that certain unlicensed taxi aggregators “have been disdainfully violating” its notification on fares by charging very low amounts like Rs five per km or as high as Rs 38 per km.

It, however, informed the court in its affidavit filed by their counsel Sanjoy Ghose that to “regulate auto rickshaws and taxi services, Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) under relevant provisions of section 93, 95 and 96 introduced a scheme called ‘City Taxi Scheme 2015’ vide notification dated August 26, 2015.

“The said scheme, under clause VII provides that the licensee shall charge fare as prescribed by the transport department from time to time and as such there is no provision under the scheme for charging any kind of ‘Peak Time Charge’ or ‘Surge Prices’,” it added.

The government had on April 18 faced the ire of the court which had said they cannot “wash their hands off” on alleged over charging by operators like Uber and Ola, as the “general public was suffering” due to it.

Advocate Pranav Sachdeva, who appeared for Magic Sewa, had said this was an urgent issue as during the ongoing odd- even scheme, app-based taxi service operators were flouting fare rules and charging exorbitantly from the customers.

It had alleged that unlicensed taxi aggregators “also charge the so-called ‘peak time charge’ or ‘surge price’ over and above the normal fares on a day and time of their own choosing. This ‘peak time charge’ or ‘surge price’ could be as high as five times the normal fare published by the unlicensed taxi aggregators.”

It also alleged that app-based cab companies were not complying with the City Taxi Scheme, 2015 or the fares notified under the Motor Vehicles Act.

The government, however, said the “department has already framed the scheme, whereby the aggregator is also allowed to seek licence and it can run its business in the city. However, the app based unlicenced operators have not applied under the said scheme till date”.

It said the department was preparing rules to regulate/ monitor the app based aggregators and prevent uneconomical competition among the licence/permit holders.

“The app based unlicenced taxi service operators are abusing the process of law to delay seeking the licenses, as the same would make them liable to follow the rules and regulations formulated as per the scheme and they are not willing to abide by the same,” it added.

In its affidavit, the government claimed it was committed to “zero-tolerance policy in so far as exploitation of citizens of Delhi is concerned and it will not shy away from taking stringent” action against the violators.

It said that the department has issued 119 challans so far against taxi operators and most of these taxis were attached with the unlicenced aggregators.

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