The Bombay High Court today rapped the Maharashtra government for its uncertainty on framing a policy permitting bike taxis in the state, and said it has to clarify its stand one way or the other.
A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and SG Dige said the state government cannot keep the issue hanging over the fire and has to take a decision immediately.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by Roppen Transportation Services Private Limited, operator of Rapido bike taxi services in Pune and Mumbai, against a communication issued to it by the state government on December 29, 2022, refusing to allow them a bike taxi aggregator licence.
Appearing for the government, Advocate General Birendra Saraf on Tuesday told the court that as on date, bike taxis are not allowed to ply, as the government has not issued any no 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,” Mr Saraf said.
The court, however, said that it found it 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.
“How can you (government) refuse for want of policy or guidelines? You may refuse it on any other ground but this. You cannot keep it hanging like this on fire. You have to take a decision even if it is on a temporary basis. We find it difficult to accept the government’s stand,” Justice Patel said.
The court said while it understands that the government has certain constraints, but the issue cannot be kept in limbo.
“You need not issue a one-size-fits-all policy or a blanket policy for the whole state. You may allow it in some cities and refuse in others. There could be different restrictions and safety guidelines in place for each city or district. But a decision one way or the other has to be taken,” the bench said.
Mr Saraf agreed to this, but said pending a decision from the government, the petitioner company should stop plying their bike taxis.
“They (petitioner) have filed a petition here, but their bike taxis continue to ply,” he said.
The court posted the matter for hearing on January 13 and directed the government to submit a list of those aggregators who are plying bike taxis in Maharashtra.
“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 court said.
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