Coming down heavily on the Maharashtra government for failing to come up with concrete policy regarding bike taxi aggregators' licensing, the Bombay High Court said it has to decide one way or the other as it concerns public safety.
A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and SG Dige on Tuesday asked the government to give a comprehensive list of two wheeler aggregators which are operational and details of the stop work notices issued by it (government). Also, the government has been asked to explain what it proposes to do in the interim.
“.. it (framing a policy) cannot be left hanging over the fire,” said Justice Patel, adding:
“There has to be a comprehensive policy equal to all. Every company has to be on the same page. Either everyone is allowed to ply or everybody stops. In the absence of policy or safety guidelines, no such service should be allowed to ply. Plying under the radar cannot be allowed.”
The HC was hearing a petition filed by Roppen Transportation Services Private Limited, operator of Rapido bike taxi services in Pune and Mumbai, challenging a communication issued to it by the state government on December 29, 2022, refusing to allow them a bike taxi aggregator licence.
Advocate General Birendra Saraf, appearing for the government, said that they will file a detailed affidavit giving details of actions taken against aggregators. Also, it will explain how two wheeler taxis are not allowed as per earlier rulings of Supreme Court and the high court in a public interest litigation filed by advocate Savina Crasto concerning taxi aggregators.
Govt issues notice to taxi aggregator
Saraf explained that at present, bike taxis are not allowed to ply, as the government has not issued any policy or guidelines for the same. “The government has in fact issued a show cause notice to one such aggregator company for plying bike taxis without licence. A carriage licence is required in such cases,” said Saraf.
The justices said it was difficult to accept the government's stand that such bike taxis cannot ply till a policy is framed but at the same time the government is not even clarifying when it would come up with its policy.
The HC has kept the matter for hearing on January 13 for orders.
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