Karnataka High Court allows Ola, Uber, Rapido to offer autorickshaw services by collecting 10% additional charge on fares fixed by government

This will be a temporary measure till Karnataka Government fixes fares based on Motor Vehicles Aggregator Guidelines issued by Centre

October 14, 2022 03:46 pm | Updated 05:46 pm IST - Bengaluru:

Contrary to the Karnataka Government’s claim that aggregators cannot offer autorickshaw services, the court found that MVAG 2020 lists autorickshaws, e-rickshaw, motor cab, motorcycle and bus as vehicles that can be offered through the platforms of aggregators. 

Contrary to the Karnataka Government’s claim that aggregators cannot offer autorickshaw services, the court found that MVAG 2020 lists autorickshaws, e-rickshaw, motor cab, motorcycle and bus as vehicles that can be offered through the platforms of aggregators.  | Photo Credit: Murali Kumar K

The High Court of Karnataka allowed app-based transport technology aggregators — Ola, Uber and Rapido — to levy 10% additional charge over and above the fares fixed by the State Government, and the applicable GST, for offering autorickshaw services through their platforms till the government fixes fares as as per the law.

Also, the court directed the State Government not to take any coercive action against app-based aggregators for offering autorickshaw services through their platforms till adjudication of the petitions filed by the aggregators.

The court passed the interim order as the fresh round of talks between the aggregators and the government, on October 13 evening, did not yield a consensus on contentious issues.

Justice M.G.S. Kamal passed the interim order after the State Government admitted that it has not looked into the Motor Vehicles Aggregator Guidelines (MVAG) 2020 issued by the Central Government in November 2020, and sought 10-15 days for fixation of rates for autorickshaw services offered by aggregators based on the MVAG 2020.

Earlier, Justice Kamal told the government counsel that the Central Government had come out with guidelines in 2020 that addresses the issues that have cropped up in Karnataka on autorickshaw services and regulation of fares to be charges by the aggregators, in a scientific and technical manner.

Contrary to the State Government’s claim that aggregators cannot offer autorickshaw services, the court found that MVAG 2020 lists autorickshaws, e-rickshaw, motor cab, motorcycle and bus as vehicles that can be offered through the platforms of aggregators.

The Advocate General responded by saying that the government is open to look into the issues while considering the MVAG 2020, and sought time to come out with rate fixation for offering autorickshaw services by app-based aggregators.

But, the A-G insisted that aggregators, who do not have a specific licence for offering autorickshaw services through their platforms, refrain from collecting fares in excess of those notified by the government on June 11, 2021.

Advocates representing the aggregators said that they cannot run the services sans collecting additional charges, and the A-G’s insistence will only result in shutting down their services.

Later, the AG, on instruction from Transport Department officials, told the court that the aggregators may be allowed to collect 5-10% additional charges.

Though advocates for the aggregators said that it would be difficult to operate with 10% additional charges while seeking at least 20% additional charges, the court said 10% additional charges would be only for the time being to meet the ends of justice keeping in mind the interest of all the stakeholders, including the general public.

ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd., which offers taxi aggregator service through Ola app, and Uber India Services Pvt. Ltd., which offers services through Uber app, and Roppen Transportation Services Pvt. Ltd., which offers service through Rapido app, had moved the court questioning the Transport Department’s October 11 order to stop offering autorickshaw services through their apps.

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