The Bombay High Court on Thursday said it will look into the aspect of whether there is any “illegality” in allowing app-based cab aggregators such as Ola and Uber to ply on tourist permits.
A bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice A S Gadkari was hearing a petition filed by the Association of Radio Taxis, which include cabs like Meru, Mega and Tabcabs, seeking a complete ban on website and app-based cab companies such as Ola and Uber. The High Court has posted the matter for final hearing on March 23.
The petitioner’s contention is that these cabs are plying with tourist permits and not on electronic meters, unlike other taxis in Maharashtra.
Responding to Justice Kanade’s observation that reports suggest there had been a significant dip in business for the black-and-yellow taxis ever since Ola and Uber had become operational, the advocates appearing for the app-based aggregators argued that their cabs were a “popular and preferred mode of transport as they are consumer-friendly.”
They further said that the “definition of ‘tourist vehicles’ in the Act wasn’t a literal one and that it referred to a range of motor vehicles used for helping one commute from one point to another.”
“We would like to first know if there is any prohibition under the Act (Motor Vehicles) and what is the illegality in providing such services in tourist vehicles?” said Justice V M Kanade.
The petitioner’s counsel Aspi Chinoy, meanwhile told the court that drivers of Meru, Tabcabs and Mega are given Public Service Vehicle (PSV) badges — which are issued by the government’s State Transport Authority — after verifying the antecedents of the driver.
“This is mandatory under the Motor Vehicles Act. But Uber and Ola have bypassed these provisions and the government is not taking any steps to stop them,” Chinoy argued.