Taxi aggregators Ola, Uber and TaxiForSure will continue to operate in the city, as the Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday refused to grant an interim order on a plea seeking action against them for operating “tourist vehicles” as intra-city taxis.
A division bench of justice MS Sanklecha and justice SC Gupte refused to grant relief to the Association of Radio Taxis primarily in view of the delay in approaching the court – more than two years after the aggregators started providing services in the city.
“You need a taxi permit to ply a vehicle as an ordinary taxi,” said advocate Aspi Chinoy, who represented the petitioner association. “The driver requires a public service batch, the vehicle is to run only on CNG and there is fare regulation.”
Chinoy said Ola and Uber are allowed to run tourist vehicles” without complying with any of these requirements, which is an offence under section 192(a) of the Motor Vehicles Act. “This is clear and evident infraction of the law and there is no answer to this [by the aggregators] to the legal issue,” Chinoy said.
Senior advocate Darius Khambata, who represented Uber, said there is a legal answer to the issue raised by the petitioner Association. He submitted “tourist vehicle” is defined in the Motor Vehicle Act as a contract carriage and the provisions of the Act nowhere prohibit a tourist vehicle from being used as an intra-city taxi.
He said Uber launched its services in February 2014 and has entered into contracts with more than 60,000 drivers across India. The advocate pointed out that Meru, one of the members of the petitioner Association, has been providing similar services, but it has not been mentioned in the petition, and therefore the association has not approached the court with clean hands.
Assistant government pleader Uma Padsuledesai told the court the committee is expected to submit its report to the Central Government by October 31, after which the Centre will come out with a policy on taxi operators. She said the state will frame its policy after the Centre declares its policy.