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HC seeks government stand on proposed auto, taxi fare hike

The Bombay High Court asked Maharashtra government to state its stand on the proposed hike in auto-rickshaw and taxi fares in Mumbai until a high-level committee decides the issue.

The direction was given by a bench headed by Justice Naresh Patil on government’s plea seeking nod for the hike announced by Mumbai Metropolitan Road Transport Authority. The government will have to make its stand clear on June 18.

The government said it had formed a high-level committee headed by a retired judge of the High Court after scrapping the earlier Hakim committee on fare hike.

Government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani said the Advocate General had earlier made a statement that before deciding to hike the fares, the government would seek permission of the High Court which was dealing with the issue. Accordingly, the government had now moved the HC to seek approval.

Advocate Uday Warunjikar, representing the consumer body Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, opposed the fare hike saying the prices of petrol had gone down by Rs eight. No decision should be taken until the committee decides the issue, he said.

However, lawyers of rickshaw and taxi unions pointed out that CNG prices had gone up and so the hike was justified.

MMRTA had, on May 11, proposed a hike. The minimum fare for autorickshaws is proposed to go up from Rs 17 to Rs 18 while that for taxis from Rs 21 to Rs 22.

The hike will come into effect only after the meters of the over 1.05 lakh autorickshaws and over 35,000 taxis in the city are re-calibrated. The hike was announced following recommendation of Hakim Committee.

The court’s approval is necessary as a PIL by Mumbai Grahak Panchayat has challenged the constitution of committee and its earlier findings.

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