No relief for OLA after Delhi HC refuses to lift ban

Smrithi Suresh

App-based cab service OLA Cabs suffered yet another setback today when the Delhi High Court dismissed its appeal against the ban that was imposed by the Delhi Government.

The instant appeal was preferred by ANI Technologies (it owns the brand name OLA) against a Single Bench order that had refused to lift the ban against vehicles operated by OLA.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath held,

“On a careful reading of the various orders passed in M.C. Mehta [WritPetition (C) No.13029 of 1985, judgment of 2002] from time to time, it appears to us that the assertion of the appellant that there is no ban of plying commercial vehicles in Delhi unless they are converted to single fuel mode of CNG, is factually incorrect.”

The Bench however, chose to keep the main petition open for consideration by the Single Bench when it held,

“Since the Petitioner did not come forward to comply with the requirement of providing CNG based cabs, the learned Single Judge thought it fit to hear the main petition itself after the completion of the pleadings.”

Previously OLA had argued before the Bench that the Delhi Government’s ban was prima-facie illegal as it proposed to bring OLA under the ambit of the Radio Taxi Scheme which was totally inapplicable to it.

OLA had also submitted that the Single Bench order had failed to take into consideration the fact that the directions of the Supreme Court in M.C. Mehta’s case did not impose any ban on plying of All India Tourist Permit Vehicles on diesel fuel in Delhi as long as they conformed to the prevalent emission norms.

The Delhi Government through its Counsel, Naushad Ahmed Khan had argued that vehicles used by the Petitioner were All-India Tourist Permit Vehicles that were authorized to only run interstate or circular interstate routes and not locally. He had also submitted that the petitioner was circumventing the ban on diesel vehicles imposed by the Supreme Court within Delhi by using diesel vehicles of associated taxi drivers who had been given All-India tourist permit.

Furthermore, the Delhi Government had stated that if the petitioner was willing to undertake to this Court that they would use only  CNG taxis, the government was willing to pass a fresh order after giving them a detailed hearing as they had complained of violation of principles of natural justice.

Speaking to Bar & Bench Khan said that the ban even applied to companies such as Uber, even as they continued to ply on Delhi roads. He added,

“The said companies have sent in their applications to us and sought to be considered for inclusion under the (Amended) Radio Taxi Scheme, 2006. Their applications will be perused and a decision will be taken accordingly.”

The GNCT of Delhi had imposed a blanket ban from January 1 of this year against operation of all app-based cab services until they complied with the amended guidelines of the Radio Taxi Scheme of 2006.  The amendment to the Guidelines was carried out in December, 2014.

You can read the Division Bench’s judgment here.

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