The legal battle between San Francisco-based taxi aggregator Uber and the Karnataka government is getting uglier by the day.
While the Karnataka government has put a brake on the operations of Uber in the state by impounding cabs for not complying with the new regulations, Uber is waiting for the government to accept its application for the licence.
“We have submitted our documents to the transport department. But they have not accepted our application as yet. When we checked with them for the reasons for not accepting our application, the officials said our application does not contain signatures on the contract.
But we have clearly told the officials that we maintain e-contracts, which are valid legal documents in India. The department has refused to accept this,” Bhavik Rathod, general manager, S&W, Uber said.
He said the company is very much in favour of the regulations and has not violated any rules under the new regulations prescribed in the Karnataka On-demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules, 2016.
“We had given our suggestions way back in February, but the government has not taken them into consideration before notifying the new regulation in April. We are open to working with the government,” he said.
Talking to FE on Wednesday, Rathod said the company will comply with the new regulation of registering 100 taxis. “But what will happen to remaining taxis. There are thousands of them, will they not get the licence to operate?,” he questioned.
“There is no clarity in the government rules. They are changing the rules every day. Karnataka is known for its innovation. But, the new regulation will take us back on innovation,” he said.
Ever since the Karnataka government introduced new regulation, there have been constant differences between the transport department and taxi aggregators. The department resorted to impounding of cabs and slapped cases on drivers for not registering their cabs with the government.
Uber has also defended the move to impose surge-pricing model stating that it worked on the basis of the demand and supply situation and provides incentive to drivers to move to an area where there is demand for cabs during the peak hours.
“Not all trips are charged on surge-pricing model. Hardly 20% of our trips surge and of that 90% of cars surge less than 2x,” Rathod said.
However, regulations state that fares should be charged according to the digital metre and cannot exceed the fares fixed by the government. The maximum fare allowed under the new rule is R19.5 per kilometre.
Referring to the new regulations introduced by the Karnataka government, which mandates panic button in the cab, physical meters with printers among others, Rathod said the company’s model of digital meter is working well with the customers.