An interesting case of legal logjam is being witnessed in the State of Karnataka, wherein taxi-hailing app Uber has very publicly, and on some level bravely, refused to obey the State Govt.’s order on stopping their ride-sharing service, known as UberPool.
In a statement released yesterday, Uber has clearly said that they are not breaking any law by offering ride-sharing services, and they will continue to offer this service in Bengaluru and other cities.
In a statement, Christian Freese, general manager, Uber, Bengaluru said, “As we believe that UberPOOL is within the law, right now there is no push to stop the product.We have always said that ride share is something that is very much welcome for a city like Bengaluru,”
On January 27th, both Uber and Ola were given strict orders by Karnataka Govt. to stop their ride-sharing services in the state. In fact, State transport commissioner M.K.Aiyappa has given them both a deadline of Friday to stop their ride-sharing services.
There has been no statements from Ola regarding this matter. Interestingly, Ola had earlier accused ‘foreign company’ Uber of breaking Indian laws. Now, as they find themselves on the same side of ‘law breaking’, they are silent on the issue.
The Bone Of Contention: Ride-Sharing Services
After Karnataka Transport Department formed regulations regarding taxi-apps and started issuing licenses for their operations in the state, things were normal for a while.
However, a new angle was derived, after few officials realized that such taxi-apps are only allowed to conduct point to point pick-ups and drops within the city premises, as they have ‘contract carriage permits’. Whereas under ride-sharing system, these apps needs to pick and drop passengers during the course of a trip, which is legally not right.
To counter this argument, Uber is stating that once a passenger opts for UberPool, then there is a clear understanding between all the entities (driver, passengers) that the trip would be shared.
Their statement said, “When a rider chooses UberPOOL through the Uber app, he or she consents to another person sharing the trip. There is a clear understanding between all the riders on the trip and the driver partner that the trip and the vehicle will be shared. The app also identifies all the riders and the driver partner,”
Uber has also claimed that the existing laws clearly permit this arrangement, as they said, “The law permits a contract carriage permit-holder to stop to pick up or set down passengers who are included in the contractual understanding with the driver.”
Why Uber Is Fighting So Hard?
Bengaluru is no doubt one of the biggest, most influential market for Uber in India, and they simply cannot allow to ruin it.
More than 10 lakh passengers in Bengaluru alone has used UberPool atleast once in the last one year, and along with Delhi and Mumbai, Bengaluru is one of the top three cities for this service. Infact, if we only talk about UberPool, then Bengaluru is Uber’s 5th largest market in India, and approximately 25% of all Uber trips in Bengaluru are UberPool trips.
As per some reports, Uber has also floated a public petition to garner support for their ride-sharing service in Karnataka.
We will keep you updated as more details come in.."Uber Bravely Defies Karnataka’s Order On Stopping Shared Rides; Says They Are Not Breaking Any Laws",