The Bombay high court (HC) on Wednesday sought to know from the state how it permitted app-based taxi aggregators such as Ola, Uber and Taxiforsure to run tourist vehicles as regular taxis in the city and surrounding urban areas. The government, however, said it is contemplating a new scheme for fleet taxi operators.
A vehicle can be operated as intra-city taxi only if the owner has obtained the requisite permit from road transport authorities, vehicles are fitted with fare meters and passengers are charged pre-fixed regulated fares.
“They don’t have permits, they don’t halt at any taxi stand, then how could they be allowed to ply as regular city cabs,” asked a division bench of justice SC Dharmadhikari and justice BP Colabawalla, while directing the state to file within a week an affidavit stating its policy and stand on the issue.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Association of Radio Taxis – an association of fleet taxi operators — seeking directions to the government to stop the operators on grounds that they have entered into agreements with owners of private tourist vehicles and are running those vehicles as regular taxis.
The association said the road transport authorities check antecedants of drivers of regular taxis, but there is no check on drivers of vehicles operated by Ola and Uber. In its plea, the association said, the operators charge different fares during different hours of the day, with their rush-hour fare almost five times the regular taxi fare. The association has sought a ban on these operators, stating their operations were contrary to the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act and the State Motor Vehicle Rules.
“They don’t have permits, they don’t have meters fitted on their vehicles, they don’t have fare regulations,” said the petitioner’s counsel, senior advocate Aspi Chinoy. “How can they be allowed to ply these tourist vehicles as taxis.”
Assistant government pleader Uma Palsule-Desai said the government was contemplating a new scheme. She, however, did not elaborate on the nature and scope of the scheme.