The Bombay high court said on Thursday that it would examine whether it was illegal to permit app-based cab aggregators Ola and Uber to ply on tourist vehicle permits.
A bench of Justices VM Kanade and AS Gadkari was hearing a petition filed by the Association of Radio Taxis that includes representatives of radio cabs such as Meru, Mega and Tab cabs that sought a complete ban on Ola and Uber.
The plea claims that the latter are plying on tourist permits and do not have electronic meters like other taxis in the state. This, the petitioner claimed, allowed them to bypass the regulation on fare prices.
As per the plea, all other cabs in the city, including the regular black and yellow taxis run on a strictly regimented system of permits and fare structure regulated by the provisions of the state government and the Motor Vehicles Act.
The association claimed that other cabs are fitted with electronic metres to charge only the specified and regulated fare fixed by the Roads and Transport Authority, and do not allow for any surge pricing practised by Ola and Uber.
They also challenged the state’s new proposed Maharashtra City Taxi rules 2017 that allows Ola and Uber to convert their tourist permits into regular ones arguing that it allows them to convert an impropriety into a legal scheme without any costs.
Uber and Ola, however, claimed that the “definition of ‘tourist vehicles’ in the Act was not a literal one and that it referred to a range of motor vehicles used for helping one commute from one point to another.”
At Justice Kanade’s observation that reports suggested that there had been a significant dip in business for the black and yellow taxis ever since Ola and Uber had become operational, the latter argued that their cabs were a “popular and preferred mode of transport for they were consumer friendly.”
They also argued that the present petition had been filed by the other cab operators only because Ola and Uber had proven to be more popular than their services.
The court is likely to take up the matter for further hearing on March 23.