Things have started heating up after cab-aggregator Ola filed an affidavit before the Karnataka High Court on June 27 accusing rival Uber of flouting the rules, and roping in white board (non-passenger) vehicles to offer taxi services.
Uber, the affidavit said, has demonstrated "a complete lack of business ethic” and has “scant respect and concern…for the law of the land.” Ola received its license from the Government of Karnataka to operate in the state just last week. With this Ola has become India’s first licensed cab aggregator
According to media reports Ola’s statement comes at a time when the Karnataka court is separately hearing Uber’s plea seeking amendments to the state’s policies on mandatory taxi signs on vehicles, physical meters, and printers for receipts, among other things. It has been trying to create problems for the US-based Uber by accusing the same of offering private vehicles, those with no valid contract carriage permit to ‘user-riders’ on its platform under the guise of carpooling.
Referring to itself as “an indigenous start-up” Ola called Uber's petition challenging the April 2 regulations of Karnataka as "motivated", and filed in an attempt to "bypass the laws of the land by foreign companies who run their operations in this country for profit without due regard for the applicable laws."
Responding to the allegations, Uber hit back with a lengthy blog by Bhavik Rathod, General Manager at Uber Bangalore, pointing out that they are ‘baseless and are being levelled to confound and complicate matters.’ It took a nationalistic turn when it posed the question “What makes Uber ‘foreign’? “The fact that we are established in San Francisco but have a hyper-local team solving problems that are locally relevant. Or that, just like our competitors, we received most of our funding from ‘foreign’ investors.” He projected Uber as “a global company with local roots.”
It even picked up on the ‘bypassing laws’ allegation its competitor made against Uber. “It’s not about ‘bypassing laws of the land’ but it’s about building for tomorrow by participating today - so we don’t stifle the innovations that is surely coming to us tomorrow. At Uber, we believe in celebrating cities - each of the city that we build ground up, every decision taken with the best interest of our riders, drivers and cities in mind. In this safety is paramount and our technology makes it possible to focus on safety for riders and drivers before, during, and after every trip in ways that were not possible before smartphones.”
The two companies are fighting for dominance in Karnataka because its capital city, Bengaluru, has a large number of customers for ride-hailing services.