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Court says transport dept rejecting Ola associates’ license application is invalid


The Delhi Court has passed an order stating that the Delhi Transport Department cannot reject the radio taxi licenses of Apra Cabs India Pvt Ltd and Serendipity Info Labs Pvt Ltd (subsidiaries/associates of Ola and TaxiForSure respectively) on the basis that they failed to submit a sworn affidavit, which declared that Ola/TaxiForSure were complying with the ban imposed by the Delhi government.

The court said that the notices sent to Apra and Serendipity did not mention the requirement to submit such a sworn affidavit. The court also noted that this was the only reason provided by the Delhi Transport Department for rejecting their license applications. The court also directed the Delhi Transport Department to immediately release any vehicles belonging to associates of Ola and TaxiForSure that had been impounded over the past few weeks.

The Delhi Transport Department has been given till June 21 to inform Apra and Serendipity about any other requirements that they need to satisfy in order to obtain a radio taxi license, and provide them a specific deadline within which they need to meet these requirements. Once this process is completed, a final decision will be taken by the court within 4 weeks.

This is what Ola had to say about this order:

We welcome the Hon’ble Delhi HC’s order dated June 11, 2015. With this, the confusion on the ban order status stands resolved. Additionally, vehicles of driver partners which were impounded shall also be released so that they can continue to resume business for themselves on the platform. The Hon’ble court also quashed the impugned notices dated 3rd Jun, 2015 subsequent to the alleged ban on Ola being set aside on Dec 23, 2014.

This judgement brings immense relief to hardworking driver-entrepreneurs on the Ola and TFS platforms. We will continue to work closely with the Government Authorities on the areas of safety and security to ensure that the city continues to enjoy reliable and convenient access to personal transportation.

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While the matter related to Apra and Serendipity seems to be resolved for the time being, it needs to be pointed out that the Delhi HC order dated June 11, 2015 doesn’t really say that Ola is free to continue operations in Delhi. The order clearly mentions that ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd, which operates Ola, had challenged the public notice issued by the Delhi Transport Department on December 8, 2014, which banned the online cab service provider from operating in the city. Following this, the court provided both parties 10 days to present their cases and passed an order on January 1, 2015, which has also been challenged by ANI. Till this challenge is presented in court, essentially, the banned order is still applicable. It’ll also be interesting to see what new requirements, if any, the Delhi Transport Department imposes on these online cab service providers in order to get a radio taxi license.

The radio taxi license saga – a timeline

December 8, 2014: Delhi Transport Department issues a public notice that says web-based cab service providers are prohibited from providing such services till they get a radio taxi license.

December 9, 2014: The Ministry of Home Affairs advised all state governments & union territories to ensure that operations of online taxi services like Uber, Ola and TaxiForSure among others be stopped until they registered themselves with state administrations.

December 23, 2014: Delhi High Court upheld ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd’s (which runs Ola) plea that the ban order was passed without providing it a chance to state its case.

January 2015: Delhi Transport Department brought online cab aggregators like Uber, Ola and TaxiForSure under the radio taxi license by amending its radio taxi regulations (pdf). The department said that these services would continue to remain banned until they complied with these new norms and opted for a radio taxi license.

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January 24, 2015: The department found certain deficiencies in the license applications of Uber, Ola, TaxiForSure and NTL Call Cabs, as per the amended Radio Taxi regulations, and rejected their applications in the current form. Apparently, TaxiForSure’s application had the most deficiencies, followed by Uber and Ola.

February 2015: Uber was given seven days to complete their radio taxi license application as per the new regulations by the Delhi Government or face rejection. It had, apparently, failed to submit a fresh application after the earlier one was rejected the month before. The Delhi government had also been considering blocking Uber’s IP address to shut down operations in the city.

March 2015: The Delhi government asked the Ministry of Communications & IT to block the online taxi booking apps of Uber and Ola in the city. The government had also apparently asked Uber to submit a sworn affidavit declaring that the company is complying with the ban on its services imposed by the government in December last year.

April 2015: Indian government softened its stance on web-based cab aggregators and said that it won’t be banning them, but will be imposing conditions to make their operations safer. The transport ministry was expected to issue an advisory within three weeks to all state governments to regulate these services under the Motor Vehicles Act.

May 2015: Internet service providers in Delhi informed the Department of Telecom (DoT) that they won’t be able to block the websites of Uber and Ola. The DoT had apparently asked ISPs to block the websites of Ola, TaxiForSure and Uber in Delhi, and had apparently mentioned that action would be taken against the ISPs that did not comply.

June 2015: The Delhi Government, once again, rejected the applications for licence by Uber, Ola and TaxiForSure. It mentioned that the applications were rejected as the cab aggregators had not complied with the ban imposed in December. Also, in a bid to impose the ban, the traffic cops in Delhi had been using the Uber app to call cabs and impound them on arrival. At the time, the Delhi police had allegedly impounded over 150 cars. The transportation minister said several such teams had been formed to get unlicensed cabs off the roads.

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