Don’t discriminate between kaali-peelis and Ola-Uber, allow fair competition: Bombay HC to State Govt

Don't discriminate between kaali-peelis and Ola-Uber, allow fair competition: Bombay HC to State Govt
The court noted that the government was trying to discriminate between ‘kali peeli’ taxis and private cab service providers while drafting the city taxi rules

The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the Maharashtra government to be ‘more rational’ and not discriminate between black-and-yellow cabs and mobile app-based services while drafting rules governing them.

A division bench of Justices RM Sawant and Sadhana Jadhav observed that the Maharashtra city taxi rules were discriminatory towards app-based providers while hearing petitions filed by Uber India Ltd, Ola Ltd and six drivers affiliated with them.

The firms and drivers were challenging the Maharashtra city taxi rules implemented this year.

“On a plain reading of the rules we found you (the government) are trying to discriminate between the ‘kali peeli’ (black-and-yellow) taxis and these private cab service providers,” Justice Savant said.

“There seems to be a clear discrimination on several points wherein the black-and-yellow taxis are given benefit. You treat everyone on par. Make it more rational. Let there be fair competition,” Justice Savant added.

The court noted that in the United States of America and a city like London, the app-based services ply on the same rates.

“In London and America, there are regular cabs and Uber cabs plying on the same fares. Maharashtra should also do something like that and be a trendsetter for other states in India.”

Additional government pleader GW Mattos sought time to file an affidavit in the matter and said the committee set up by the government to look into the aspect of fare structure fixation has still not submitted its report.

“Till we file the affidavit the government will not take any coercive steps in furtherance of rules,” Mattos said. The court accepted the statement and posted the matter for further hearing on September 15.

In their petition, the drivers had claimed that the rules were arbitrary as they did not allow app-based taxis to ply within Mumbai Metropolitan Region on a national tourist permit and forced them to obtain local permits which were exhorbitantly priced.

“Obtaining local permits will cost private taxi drivers and owners ten times more than what it costs the drivers of black-and-yellow taxis,” they contended.

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