Ola to be back on streets as govt lifts ban

Ola to be back on streets as govt lifts ban

The State Transport Authority on Monday revoked its order suspending cab aggregator Ola’s licence for six months, but slapped a penalty of Rs 15 lakh for violating the rules.

The authority had on Friday ordered the suspension of Ola operations for running bike taxis illegally. However, the ban was lifted even before it came into force. Thanks to the intervention of the cabinet ministers, who had promised to resolve the issue.

Asked about the move, V P Ikkeri, chairman of the authority and transport commissioner, said all the decisions were according to the rules. “This is not an about U-turn. There are provisions in the Aggregator Rules (2016) to impose the penalty in lieu of the ban. Ola has now given an undertaking that it would follow the rules and agreed to pay Rs 15 lakh fine,” he said.

Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge was the first to announce that the ban would be lifted, a day after he urged the chief minister against such measures. Transport Minister D C Thammanna made a similar promise on Sunday, adding that he did not approve the suspension order. Following criticism on social media, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy had said that the chief secretary would look into the issue.

Asked whether political pressure was the reason for revocation, the commissioner said there was no direction from the political authorities. “The authority has quasi-judicial powers. We are taking the decision in the public interest,” he said.

In a petition, Iktear Uddin, Ola’s legal cell head, gave an undertaking that they would accept any penalty in lieu of the suspension. The commissioner said Rs 15 lakh fine was calculated based on the provision in the aggregator rules. “We can impose a penalty up to Rs 10,000 per vehicle. We have seized 250 bikes. The vehicles will be released the moment they deposit the penalty,” he said.

In its response, Ola said: “We are glad that the issue stands resolved. We look forward to continuing to work with the state, to help address the challenges of mobility.”

Meanwhile, members of two drivers’ unions were not happy with the revocation of the ban. One of the associations alleged that political pressure was the reason for the officials “showing leniency” towards Ola.