Uber and Ola case: Con­sumer is king, says HC

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The Delhi high court has re­minded taxi op­er­a­tors that ‘con­sumer is king’ when they protested against dis­counts be­ing of­fered by app-based cab providers. Jus­tice Man­mo­han said if a com­pany gave dis­counts, it was the cus­tomers who ben­e­fited. So, if op­er­a­tors such as Ola and Uber wished to in­crease their cus­tomer base by giv­ing them at­trac­tive dis­counts, the courts could not step in. His re­mark came while hear­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion by a taxi as­so­ci­a­tion which al­leged that app-based cab ser­vice providers were flout­ing the court’s Au­gust 11di­rec­tions on surge pric­ing and also failed to fol­low the rates pre­scribed by the Delhi govern­ment.

Jus­tice Man­mo­han said if the govern­ment did not want to fix any min­i­mum fares, it was their de­ci­sion and he could not ask them to do so. The coun­sel ap­pear­ing for the govern­ment told HC that af­ter the Au­gust 11 directions, they had not re­ceived any com­plaint re­gard­ing surge pric­ing by app-based cab ser­vices providers. “Sup­pose some­body wants to give dis­counts, can you (taxi as­so­ci­a­tion) say that con­sumers should not be given the ben­e­fit? Ul­ti­mately, con­sumer is the king.

“To­day, 4G prices have been cut by 40 per cent by a tele­com com­pany. Shouldn't con­sumers be given ben­e­fits? The state govern­ment’s no­ti­fi­ca­tion does not say dis­counts can­not be given to the con­sumers. This court can­not say that less charges should not be levied by them. Af­ter all, the con­sumers should be ben­e­fited. The court can­not ex­er­cise this power,” Man­mo­han said.

The HC had ear­lier this month clamped down on surge pric­ing by app-based cab ser­vice providers and set 22 Au­gust as the dead­line af­ter which such en­ti­ties and other taxi op­er­a­tors could not charge pas­sen­gers more than the rates fixed by the govern­ment. The dead­line was fixed af­ter Uber had said it needed 10 days to make changes to its soft­ware. Ola had told the court it had al­ready stopped charg­ing pas­sen­gers more than the no­ti­fied rates.

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