A password will be e-mailed to you.

Bombay HC orders all cab aggregators to apply for licenses by Mar 16

The Bombay high court on Monday said that app-based taxi aggregators such as Ola and Uber operating in Maharashtra without proper licenses were an example of “complete lawlessness,” and ordered all such companies to apply for appropriate licenses by March 16 if they want to continue operating.

Uber and Ola Cabs app on the smartphone screen

Image Courtesy: Ascannio

The High Court, on the other hand, refrained from barring such cabs from operating in the meantime, stating that it was concerned that doing so would have a negative impact on commuters. “We are conscious that restraining aggregators, who have not yet obtained licenses, will operate to prejudice and detriment of passengers who avail the services,” a bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta said.

The orders were imposed by the court during the hearing of public interest litigation lodged by advocate Savina Crasto noting the lack of an appropriate grievance redressal process for customers using the Uber India app. Crasto referenced a November 2020 event in which she booked an Uber in the city and was pulled off mid-way “in a shady dark place,” and she discovered that the company’s app had no convenient way to lodge a complaint. The HC had previously noted that the Maharashtra government has yet to adopt comprehensive guidance for issuing licenses and regulating the operations of such cab aggregators during prior hearings.

Despite the fact that the Central Government defined the Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines, which were designed to regulate these cabs, those in the state were operating under licenses provided under the Maharashtra City Taxi Rules 2017. Chief Justice Datta stated on Monday that the aforementioned arrangement was unacceptable and in violation of the law.

“What are you (Maharashtra government) doing? This is complete lawlessness. You are not following the law. The law is very clear that so long as the state government does not have Rules, you (aggregators) will have to follow the Central government guidelines. We will stop you (aggregators) from plying,” the HC added.

Senior advocate Janak Dwarkadas, who represented Uber India, argued in the court that the company had no intention of breaking the law and that it had a robust grievance redressal channel on its app. The HC, on the other hand, stated that such a mechanism alone was insufficient. The HC stated that possessing a license in compliance with the Motor Vehicles Act was required to regulate the operations of all such cab aggregators.
Dwarkadas went on to say that on March 5 of this year, the Union government hosted a conference with aggregators and stakeholders to collect feedback on the Central aggregators’ regulations and guidelines.

The state government must make a decision on applications within a fortnight of receipt and without unreasonable delay, according to the HC, adding that cabs will continue to operate as usual in the interim. The case will be heard again in four weeks, the HC said.



Send this to a friend