Anticipating trouble at its auction of permits for 4,000 new fleet taxis by the Mumbai Taxi Union, the state transport department filed a caveat with the Bombay High Court on Wednesday. This means that even if the taxi union files a case, the court will not stay the auction process until they hear the reason behind the auction from the transport department.
Transport Commissioner Dilip Jadhav confirmed this saying, “We have filed a caveat in anticipation of an opposition from the taxi unions on the auction.”
An RTO official said, “It is a very difficult process to get a stay vacated by a court. So, it was important for us to file a caveat which will give us enough time to present our side to the court, in case the taxi union files a case.”
The transport department will get 90 days to furnish their side to the court, if the taxi union’s plea is admitted.
The decision on the caveat was taken after the taxi union met Home Minister RR Patil to voice their protest against the auction.
The taxi union is opposing the government’s auction plan, which will fetch them close to Rs 50 crore, as the permits originally belonged to the black-and-yellow taxi drivers. These permits have not been renewed for more than 10 years.
Meanwhile, the taxi union has said it will go ahead with challenging the auction.
“On Thursday, we will challenge the auction even though we are aware that a caveat has been filed,” A L Quadros, general secretary, Mumbai Taxi Union, said.
Sources in the Regional Transport Office (RTO) said the taxi union knows they are in the wrong as their drivers haven’t made the effort to renew expired permits for years together.
The transport department will sell these expired permits to fleet companies.
In the first phase, 4,000 permits will be auctioned, while in the second phase 7,000 are expected to be sold, if the government allows it. The transport department says there may be more than 18,000 such permits that have expired.