The Government of Karnataka, which published the draft rules for online cab aggregators in state, cites that companies which do not have a technology aggregator taxi service license will not be allowed to operate in the state and that drivers are free to work with other aggregators as per their choice, among other things.
MediaNama, which got an exclusive copy of the rules (find the entire document in images below) lists the other rules that online cab aggregators will need to follow if the draft, titled ‘Karnataka On Demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules, 2016’ comes into effect 30 days from date of issue (9 Feb 2016).
Although multiple publications carried the news (also stating that the document was in the public domain), the document was not accessible online. MediaNama had to interact with and visit multiple government departments and RTOs to get a copy of the guidelines. On contacting Ola and Uber about this, Uber said that it would only comment once the guidelines were available online and did not have a copy of the guidelines. Ola, on the other hand, was able to make a copy of the guidelines from MediaNama’s hard copy but said that it would issue a statement after its internal teams had taken a look at it.
In an interview with MediaNama, HG Kumar, the Additional Commissioner for Transport and Secretary of the State Transport Authority (STA) of Karnataka, said that these rules have been drafted on the basis of the guidelines released by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in October 2015 which directed the state transport authorities to either follow the one it issued or draft their own. The government seeks suggestions and counter comments from the public 30 days from the publication of the rules and will consider those before issuing the final guidelines.
Since this regulation will come under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, online cab aggregators in Karnataka will not get intermediary liability protection under the definition of intermediaries (see point 3) in the Information Technology Act, 2000. Online cab aggregators refer to themselves are technology companies which do not own or operate taxies but only connect the passengers and drivers.
Here are the most brutal parts of the rules:
– The applicant should have a minimum of of either 100 taxis owned or in agreement with individual taxi permit holders.
– The applicant has to have a control room facility. (no further details)
– The vehicle should have a display board inside the taxi with the driver’s info.
– The vehicle should also be fitted with a ‘tamper proof electronic digital fare meter’ which is capable of generating a printed receipt to be given to passengers if fare cannot be informed through SMS or email.
– It should have a yellow coloured display board with the word “Taxi” visible from both the front and the rear and can be illuminated at night.
– Driver should be a resident of Karnataka for a minimum of 5 years.
– He should have a working knowledge of Kannada and any other language, preferably English.
– The fare cannot be higher than the one fixed by Government from time to time. (At present, this is fixed at Rs 19.5 per km.)
– No passenger can be charged dead mileage (the amount taken by a driver to reach the pick up point of the passenger from wherever the driver is, a passenger can only be charged from their pick up point to their destination.)
– Drivers have to be trained at least once in a year on safe driving skills, gender sensitisation and passenger etiquette etc. They should be allowed to work a maximum number of hours under the Motor Transport Workers Act 1961 (Central act number 27 of 1961- pdf here).
– The vehicle should have a small feedback register kept in the taxi, easily accessible to passengers.
– Drivers cannot take independent or direct bookings, unless done via the obtained license.
– Permit holders have the liberty to operate with any other aggregator simultaneously as per their discretion.
– Publish the policy on taxi fare beforehand.
– The state transport authority, after giving the licensee an opportunity to be heard, can suspend the license for a minimum 30 days to a maximum of 6 months, if a passenger complaints of misbehaviour or misdemeanour.
Here’s images of the rules, the forms and the appendix:
– Delhi’s Radio Taxi Scheme (pdf) which came into effect from 26 December 2014