Rapido Bike Taxi told the Bombay High Court on Friday that it will suspend all its services in Maharashtra till January 20 and also ensure that its services on the mobile application within the State would be suspended starting today at 1 pm till January 20. [Roppen Transportation Services Private Limited vs State of Maharashtra and Ors.]
This undertaking was given after a bench of Justices GS Patel and SG Dige warned the company that if it does not suspend its services immediately, the Court will issue directions to the authorities to permanently prohibit the company from getting any license.
"You thought there were guidelines, and we can run our services without license. In other words, Mr. Judge please protect our illegality under Article 226. Guess what? We will not. Dr. Saraf's entire team is here. They will be watching over you like hawks. If you make one mistake, we will dismiss this petition. We will ensure that you are restrained from getting a license permanently, and we will impose costs while dismissing this petition," the Court said.
The counsel appearing for Rapido made a statement that the company will suspend all their services till January 20 and will ensure the services for booking any vehicle on their app is also disabled through Maharashtra.
The Court's observations were made in light of the fact there is no licensing regime in place currently in Maharashtra with respect to bike taxis.
The remarks came during hearing of plea moved by Rapido, a bike taxi aggregator company, challenging the State government's refusal to grant two-wheeler bike taxi aggregator license.
In the communication dated December 29, 2022 refusing grant of license to the petitioner-company, the State government had stated that there is no State policy on licensing of bike taxies and that there is no fare structure policy for bike taxies.
The bench had, on January 2, asked the State to consider the benefits of having two-wheeler transport and opined that there is nothing to stop the State from framing a policy.
It had then adjourned the matter for January 10, Tuesday for State to take instructions on when it intended to take a final decision with regard to the two-wheeler or bike taxi aggregators.
It also demanded to know the transitional provisions it proposed to take and the time within which the said provisions would be put in place.
Advocate General Dr Birendra Saraf appearing for the government informed the Court on January 10, that bike taxi aggregators are not allowed to ply in the State as there is no policy or guidelines regulating the same.
The Court, however, refused accept the stand that bike taxis cannot ply till a policy is framed by the State.
While Saraf agreed to this, he said that pending this decision, Rapido ought to be stopped from plying their bike taxis.
The Court also agreed and reiterated that the policy will have to be equal for all aggregators to the extent that either permission to ply will be given to all aggregators or to none at all.
During the hearing today, Saraf brought a list of aggregators whose application for licenses were pending before the authorities.
He also mentioned that Rapido had been plying taxis and auto rikshaws without obtaining any license.
This miffed the division bench which then warned the company of adverse action.
The Court will continue hearing the matter with regard to State formulating a policy for granting licenses to such companies.