Supreme Court Seeks Centre’s Views On Allowing Bike-Taxi Aggregators Like Rapido, Uber In Delhi; Asks About Insurance Coverage

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The Supreme Court on Friday sought the Centre’s response in a plea challenging Delhi High’s order which allowed bike-taxi aggregators Rapido and Uber to operate bike-taxis without aggregator licenses till a final policy regarding it is notified.

A Vacation Bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Rajesh Bindal was hearing a special leave petition filed by the Delhi Government challenging the High Court’s order which stayed the notices issued against Rapido and Uber.

“Let the copy of both petitions be served upon the Solicitor General so that views of the Union of India can be taken into account. List on Monday”, the bench ordered.

During the hearing today, Senior Advocate Manish Vashisht, appearing for the Delhi government argued that the high court’s decision to stay the government’s notice till the final policy is notified is “virtually allowing” the writ petition by Rapido.

“There’s no way to offend the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act on a daily basis. Look at the order, the High Court has passed a non-speaking order”, the counsel added.

On May 26, the Delhi High Court, while issuing notice to the Delhi government on Rapido’s plea, directed that no coercive action be taken against the bike-taxi aggregator till a final policy has been notified.

In February 2023, the Delhi Transport Department issued a public notice to stop plying their bike taxi services effective immediately.

The Bench asked Delhi government whether the plying bike taxis have private number plates.

“Is this for the two-wheeler? They have been allowed to operate on private number plate?”

Replying to the bench, Vashisht said that under the Motor Vehicles Rules, aggregators must obtain a licence to do so.

“They have not been allowed to operate for any purposes which covers commercial usage or…They are all having private number plates”. The counsel also referred to the definition of motor cycle under Section 2 (27) and obtaining a license under Section 93 of the Act.

“Have you started a licensing regime for the aggregators?”, the Court proceeded to ask.

“We have drafted the policy [Delhi Motor Vehicle Aggregator Scheme, 2023], public notices have been invited to participate and give objections”, the counsel said while adding that this process would be completed in a month. The Limitation period for submitting objections is expiring on June 24, he informed.

“But there’s a ramification. If there’s an accident, then no one will get insurance”, the Bench said, pointing out the higher risk for bike-taxis.

Appearing for Uber, Senior Advocate NK Kaul stated that the insurance cover is there for the drivers and that Uber is only an aggregator.

“Should your Lordships interfere with this interim order? What is the challenge pending before the High Court? These are important questions…. These People are operating across the country as aggregators, they don’t own the vehicle; it just brings a person who has two wheelers or taxi on a platform. It’s a great facilitator all over the world.”

Adding on, he submitted, “They have been operating since 2019. The law is this, the Government of India came up with guidelines, in 2004, it said aggregators can use two wheelers and four wheelers, both”.

Those were only guidelines and not a policy, Manish countered.

In the plea filed before the Supreme Court, the Delhi government said that owing to the High Court’s interim order, Uber and Rapido are continuing the use of non-transport vehicles including two-wheelers for the purpose of aggregation and ride pooling, which is impermissible under the Motor Vehicles Act read with the Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines, 2020 without obtaining valid permits.

Case Title: GNCTD v Roppen Transportation Services Private Limited

Click Here To Read/Download Order



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