Ola has petitioned the Karnataka High Court against the state Transport Department for not issuing license to operate bike taxis in the state, reports the Economic Times. This comes just a week after the state fined Ola Rs.15 lakh for operating bike taxis service. Ola’s petition sought on order for a regulatory framework for the issuance of bike taxi permits, as laid out in a 2016 notification from the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The petition also sought that all other bike taxi services be stalled until their permits are issued.
According to Ola, the state transport department did not act against other bike taxi operators, but last month suspended Ola’s aggregator licence for a six-month period. The state government reinstated the aggregator license after Ola agreed to pay the fine of Rs.15 lakh. The Karnataka State Transport Commissioner has not yet commented on the issue.
Ola’s aggregator license revoked
Last week, the state suspended Ola’s license for six months as a punitive measure for running bike taxis under an aggregator license, and gave it 3 days to submit its license on receiving the notice. Tanveer Pasha, President of Ola, Taxiforsure and Uber drivers and Owners Association, had said that Ola was violating the state’s laws by running commercial and non-commercial bike taxis in the state.
The state transport department had not implemented the ban on Ola yet, because it had been given time to submit its license. Ola’s present license is valid till 19 June 2021. In Karnataka, Ola’s cabs operate in Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Hubballi, Ballari, Belgaum and Kalaburagi.
Absence of bike taxis regulation
However, the license suspension was not a complete surprise; the Bangalore Transport Department had last month asked Ola to stop its bike taxi services in Bangalore, and warned that it would seize them if found operating. This, the department had said, was due to the lack of a policy for bike taxis. Bike taxis are illegal in the Karnataka – there are no regulations looking at their legality and apparently, the transport department is working on a policy with stakeholders to decide whether bike taxis can be allowed in the city, if not the entire state. The Karnataka state transport commissioner said that the state government had constituted a committee to study bike taxi system in October 2018, while reiterating that the government would be the sole authority to decide on the legality of bike taxis.
Currently, only Goa and Haryana allow bike taxis to ply. Additionally, ET reports that the states of Haryana, UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, and Telangana have all introduced a licence for bike taxi operators, and Gujarat’s bike taxi rules are currently in the pipeline.