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Consumer is king, can’t say discounts not be given: HC

“Consumer is the king”, the Delhi High Court said on Tuesday while observing that it cannot say lower charges should not be levied and discounts not given to customers by app-based cab providers like Ola and Uber. Justice Manmohan said if a company gave discounts, then the customers benefited and the app-based cab service providers were more interested in the number of hits by the consumers.

The observation came during the hearing of an application by a taxi association which alleged that app-based cab service providers like Ola and Uber were not complying with the court’s August 11 directions and not following the rates prescribed by the government.

“Suppose somebody wants to give discounts, can you (taxi association) say that consumers should not be given the benefit? Ultimately, consumer is the king,” the court said. “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,” the court said.

“This court cannot say that less charges should not be levied by them. After all, the consumers should be benefited. Court cannot exercise this power,” it said.

The court, which fixed the matter for further hearing on November 21, has asked Delhi government to file an affidavit stating whether there was any fixed minimum fare.

During the hearing, the court said, “does the notification (on fares) by government say that they cannot give discounts to the consumers? Have they fixed the minimum fares? The way in which the industry works is very, very different, especially in case of app-based industries”. “Its valuation is by the number of hits. These people are not only interested in profit, they are after the number of hits. 

They operate on a different principle. Dichotomy of app- based companies and taxi operators are different,” it said. The court also said if the government does not want to fix any minimum fares, it was their decision and courts cannot ask them to fix minimum fares.

The counsel appearing for Delhi government told the court that after the August 11 directions, they have not received any complaint regarding surge pricing by these app-based cab services providers.
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