Even As Ola Goes App-Only It Still Faces Potential Ban In Delhi

29/07/2015 12:28 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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NEW DELHI — Even as the spectre of a ban in Delhi hovers over taxi-aggregator Ola's Delhi operations, the company has decided to hitch a ride on the e-commerce industry's latest trend of offering their services exclusively through apps.

"With 99 percent of our bookings coming through the app today, it is clear that our users prefer the seamless app-experience to any other mode of booking," said Pranay Jivrajka, chief operating officer, Ola, in a statement. The website will stop accepting bookings in August.

This follows Flipkart, India's largest e-commerce marketplace, who said they would go app-only from September. Earlier, online fashion retailer Myntra — also owned by Flipkart — eschewed its website for an app-only experience.

Ola is India's largest cab aggregator and present in 100 cities. It competes with San Francisco-based Uber, which counts India as its second-largest market outside the United States.

Decision On Ban

Meanwhile the Delhi high court chastised Ola for continuing to operate in Delhi despite a government ban on taxi-hailing apps. "How are you operating post January 1 order? There has been no stay. Why is the ban not being implemented? " Justice Manmohan asked the counsel for ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd., the holding company of Ola.

The judge said that he might ban Ola if the company does not re-apply for a radio taxi licence. It got rejected in its last attempt as the Delhi transport department said that taxi-haling apps, including Ola and Uber, do not fulfill the required conditions for getting a license.

Ola's counsel Khalid Arshad said that the service was not required to fulfil the licence conditions laid down by the government as it was not a cab operator but an aggregator. But the court disagreed, and took exception to the counsel's arguments.

"You are not agreeing to any conditions. Your clients are taking the court for a ride. This is not an Ola cab, this is the court,” said Justice Manmohan's bench. "You’ve pushed me into a corner where I will be forced to uphold a complete ban,” he warned Arshad.

The court also told Ola that diesel cars will not be allowed to run. “We will have to run on clean fuel. Diesel is not clean fuel,” the bench said. The next hearing is scheduled today.

Ola and Uber were banned in Delhi since December 2014 after a Uber driver allegedly raped a woman. The Delhi High Court had said in June that the government's ban was not valid and could not be grounds to reject its application to operate its taxis in the city.

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