10 Jan 2023 4:41 PM GMT
Hearing bike taxi aggregator Rapido’s plea challenging the State’s refusal to grant licenses to entities like it, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday said the State cannot remain in a limbo when it comes to taking a decision in the matter. “Tell us whenever, that you are going to take a decision…but we find it difficult that you refuse (licence) saying there is no policy and we...
Hearing bike taxi aggregator Rapido’s plea challenging the State’s refusal to grant licenses to entities like it, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday said the State cannot remain in a limbo when it comes to taking a decision in the matter.
“Tell us whenever, that you are going to take a decision…but we find it difficult that you refuse (licence) saying there is no policy and we don't know if we will frame a policy. That’s what you are saying in short…We understand there are legitimate concerns. But we cannot be in limbo," a division bench of Justice G. S. Patel and Justice S. G. Dige said while posting the matter for January 13.
The state in a notification dated December 29, 2022 said that there is no scheme for bike taxis and no fare structure policy in place.
During the hearing, the court said that the state cannot discriminate between different entities. “One situation we find unbalanced is to allow others….But in the meanwhile stopping Mr. Chinoy (Rapido) to do exactly what others are doing. You can't give someone special treatment," said the bench.
The court said this after Senior Advocate Aspi Chinoy for the petitioner argued that Uber is providing the same service but is protected by a status quo order of the Supreme Court.
Advocate General Birendra Saraf submitted that there are many concerns, and guidelines are required. He gave a hypothetical situation that a person who is a threat to society or has criminal antecedents may register on the app.
The bench responded that the State can make guidelines to address these issues. The court clarified that there is no requirement to issue a “blanket, one size fits all” licence. The state is free to impose restrictions such as not allowing bike taxis at night etc., the court said.
"Mr. Chinoy I don't know when you last went to Poona, but the latest fashion seems to be to wear a helmet on the wrist," Justice Patel remarked during the hearing. “In fact, if you (State) do not place any checks and balances in place in public safety, then we will ourselves injunct”.
The court added that State is free to permit bike taxis in Municipal Councils, Corporations but not in towns below certain population, or in South Mumbai as autos are also not allowed there. However, a decision has to be taken, it stressed.
Being unconvinced by the State’s reasons to refuse bike taxi licenses, the court in an earlier order had said “Nobody seems to have applied their mind to the evident advantages from various perspectives including reducing traffic congestion, pollution reduction and efficiency in transport by allowing bike rider systems. We expect that these will be made subject to certain safety requirements that must be followed but that is hardly a reason for rejecting the entire proposal in this fashion.”
Case no. – WP/15991/2022 [Civil]
Case Title – Roppen Transportation Services Pvt. Ltd. and Anr. v. State of Maharashtra