Bombay HC accuses Maharashtra government of being biased towards kaali-peeli taxis

The bench said that the state government must be “more rational” while fixing the fares and stipulating rules to regulate app based cabs.
Published on Aug 03, 2017 02:33 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByAyesha Arvind, Mumbai

The Bombay high court said on Thursday that a “plain reading” of the Maharashtra City Taxi Rules 2017 showed that the state was clearly biased towards ‘kaali-peeli taxis,’ and sought to disadvantage app-based cabs such as Uber and Ola.

A bench of Justices RM Savant and Sadhana Jadhav said that the Rules were apparently discriminatory, and that they sought to favour the ‘kaali-peeli’ or the black and yellow taxis. The bench said that thus, the state government must be “more rational” while fixing the fares and stipulating rules to regulate the app based cabs.

“There seems to be a clear discrimination on several points wherein the kali-peeli taxis are given benefit. The government must treat everyone at par. Let there be fair competition,” the bench said.

“In London and American cities, regular cabs and Uber cabs ply on a level field. Maharashtra should also allow something like that and be a trendsetter for other states in India to follow.”

The bench was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by Uber India, Ola Ltd, and some of their drivers challenging the Maharashtra City Taxi Rules that were implemented by the state government in January this year.

The petitioners’ primary grievance is that the new rules disallow app-based cabs to continue plying on national tourist permits and instead, mandate that they apply for new local permits if they wish to continue operations within the city limits. The existing permits will restrict the operations of such cabs to only their city of registration.

Obtaining the new local permits, the petitioners claim, will need drivers to spend Rs25,000 for vehicles with engine capacity below 1,400 cc and Rs2.6 lakh for vehicles with engine capacity above 1,400 cc. This amount, they say, is “ten times more than what it costs the drivers of black-and-yellow taxis.”

The state, however, has claimed the new rules have been implemented partly, and once formulated and implemented completely, the Rules will create a level playing field for all cabs operating in the city.

On Thursday, Additional Government Pleader G W Mattos sought time to file an affidavit clarifying its stand.

HC is likely to take the matter for further hearing on September 15 this year.

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