Karnataka HC adjourns hearing on Uber plea against licence rules

The Karnataka High Court on Monday adjourned the hearing on a petition by app-based taxi aggregator Uber which sought to quash new rules requiring online taxi aggregators to acquire licences and end surge pricing.

Judge Aravind Kumar adjourned the hearing after the state counsel sought additional time to respond. On June 1, the Judge had directed the Karnataka transport department to stop impounding taxis on grounds of non-compliance with rules that came into effect in April. A Uber spokesperson confirmed the development.

Uber had approached the High Court after the Karnataka commissioner of transport directed taxi aggregators to suspend operations till they secured licences under the new norms.

The department also impounded taxis, sparking protests by drivers, affiliated with both Uber and Ola. They blocked traffic near the airport this week to express their dissent. Drivers have also independently filed a petition in court.

Uber has sought quashing of the Karnataka On-demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules, 2016, calling these unconstitutional and without legislative backing. Uber said it was a marketplace that connected riders with drivers and it never initiated a transaction.

The licence bans surge pricing, unpopular with commuters, and requires compliance with maximum fares set by the government periodically and registering services with local transport authorities.

Uber and rival Ola have applied for a licence but not received approval. Karnataka is the first state in the country to license taxi aggregators. About 50,000 taxis in Bengaluru are affiliated with Uber and Ola.

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