App-based cab service providers, including Ola and Uber, were today summoned as accused by a Delhi court for allegedly running taxis in the city without licence and overcharging passengers.
Metropolitan Magistrate Abhilash Malhotra said a prima facie case of permit violation was made out against the firms for allegedly charging excess fares which is in violation of the provisions of the Motor Vehicles (MV) Act.
The court summoned ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd, which runs Ola, Uber India Systems Pvt Ltd and Serendipity Infolabs Pvt Ltd, which runs Taxi For Sure, and directed their authorised representatives to appear before it on December 11.
The court’s order came on NGO Nyayabhoomi’s plea, filed through advocate Sumit Kumar, seeking prosecution of the three firms under various provisions of the MV Act.
Section 93(1)(I) of the MV Act mandates that an agent who solicits the customers for public service vehicles (PSV) is required to obtain a licence under the Act.
The court noted that firms are running the public service vehicles on contract carriage basis.
“The firms are acting as an aggregator who are deciding the drivers, customer allocation, fares, SOS protocols and other administrative issues. It is alleged that no licence under the Section 93 of MV Act has been obtained by the firms for running PSV in Delhi which is in violation of City Taxi Scheme, 2015 and section 93 of MV Act.
“Accordingly, prima facie ingredients of section 193 (Punishment of agents and canvassers without proper authority) of MV Act are attracted against all the three firms,” it said.
The court noted that the complainant NGO through its secretary Rakesh Agarwal, has also placed on record documents claiming that the firms were overpricing.
It noted that the fares have been decided by transport department of Delhi government through a June 20, 2013 notification which prescribed the minimum fare per kilometre, night charges, waiting charges and flag down charges.
The Delhi High Court, in its August 11, 2016 order in which the firms were also parties, had directed that after August 22, 2016, taxi aggregators/ operators shall not charge fare more than the cap stipulated in the government’s June 2013 notification.
The magistrate said “prima facie it is clear that excess fares have been charged by the companies in violation of MV Act, June 20, 2013 notification as well as CTS scheme.
Accordingly, prima facie case for permit violation under the MV Act is made out.”
It was alleged in the complaint that as per CTS rules, the drivers of taxis shall have PSV badge and all the taxis shall have an electronic digital fare meter on the front panel.
It was also alleged that none of these firms are ensuring that the drivers are having PSV badges and the digital fare meter is not working and the fare is calculated through App.
The plea claimed that during the transit, the customer is not able to check/ ascertain the fare and it is calculated and informed via App to the customer only on conclusion of the journey.
Complainant had also placed on record details of the firms’ diesel taxis which are still on rolls.
The court had earlier recorded pre-summoning evidence advanced by the complainant in support of the plea, which had also sought summoning of the three firms as accused.
The NGO had also sought recovery of a whopping Rs 91,000 crore from cab service providers for allegedly not adhering to rules relating to fares and not operating by meters.
It had sought recovery of an additional penalty of Rs 26,000 crore from the firms and jail term for them.
The court, however, had treated “dismissed as withdrawn” an application filed by the same NGO seeking lodging of FIR against the three app-based cab service providers, holding that the offences alleged in the plea under the MV Act were “non-cognisable”.
It had allowed the complainant to lead evidence in support of the complaint under the CrPC that these three cab companies were also allegedly violating permit conditions by running vehicles on diesel and providing point-to-point service in Delhi.
( Source – PTI )