The Delhi high court on Wednesday suggested to the city government to do away with the ban on app-based cab service providers, saying they cannot be blamed for the illegal acts of the cab drivers who were given All India permits (AIP).
The high court also told app-based taxi service provider, Ola cabs, that it was inclined to allow only CNG-based cabs to provide point-to-point service in the national capital.
"If AIP was given to wrong person, he (Ola) is not to be blamed. You can't put burden on him (Ola) if AIP was given to a criminal. The cross has to be borne by police and government," justice Manmohan said, and added, "But CNG requirement has to be complied with."
"If it is point-to-point in Delhi, the cab has to run on CNG. I am very clear about it. Your competitors run on CNG, so how can you run on diesel? Run on CNG or not at all," the judge said.
The court suggested to the Delhi government to do away with the ban on such service providers as their technology has been working the world over, is well-recognised and is a "boon for consumers", and to hear them afresh on their plea to allow them to ply.
While appreciating app-based cabs services' benefits, like presence of GPS for tracking purposes, reduction in number of private vehicles due to faster and cheaper availability of such taxis and their employment potential, the court said vehicles plying under this technology have to run on CNG.
"Prima facie I am not going to allow diesel vehicles to run in Delhi through this methodology (of app-based cab service). You see pollution levels are on rise in the city," it said.
The court was hearing a plea of ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd, which provides service under Ola brand, that it is not amenable to the Delhi government's recently modified Radio Taxi Scheme as cabs under it already have AIPs.
The company, which claims to be a taxi aggregator, has said since cabs under it have AIPs, they do not need to get additional permission to ply in Delhi.
The company also said that as per Supreme Court orders, cabs only have to comply with Euro-II norms and CNG was not a mandatory requirement.
The Delhi government opposed the contention and told the court that such companies are amenable to the scheme and thus, have to run on CNG and also have to verify antecedents of their drivers.
The court, however, said that policy of the government was not keeping pace with change in technology and asked it to show such companies fell under the scheme and listed the matter for further hearing on July 27.
It, however, also said that all public service vehicles running in the capital have to run on CNG.
In a similar plea, the high court had on July 8 set aside a Delhi government order that had rejected another cab service provider Uber's licence to ply in the capital while asking the transport department to impose conditions on the company to operate.
The court had said that since it had set aside the Delhi government's June 3 order, by which application for licence of two other app-based taxi services -- Apra Cabs India Pvt Ltd and Serendipity Infolabs Pvt Ltd (Taxi for Sure) -- were rejected, Uber India Technology Pvt Ltd was "entitled" to a similar relief.
The court had also told the Transport Department of the Delhi government to impose any condition on Uber, in accordance with the law.
The Delhi government had cancelled the licence application of Uber for not complying with the provisions of the recently amended Radio Taxi Scheme of 2006.
The amendment was introduced after certain app-based cab companies were banned in the capital following an Uber cab driver allegedly raping a finance executive in December last year.
The modified scheme imposes various mandatory requirements including having prefixed calibrated meters, a GPS device and running on CNG, on the companies for grant of licence.