The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Maharashtra government to take a decision within eight weeks on a 2017 report submitted by a state-appointed committee to fix fares for app-based cab aggregators Ola and Uber.
In October 2016, the state government had constituted a four-member committee under the chairmanship of retired IAS officer B C Khatua to decide on the minimum and maximum fare structure for companies like Ola and Uber.
The committee had in September 2017 submitted an exhaustive report to the government. But, till date, the government has not taken a final decision on the committee’s report and recommendations.
A division bench of Justices B P Dharmadhikari and Revati Mohite Dere on Wednesday noted that the issue has been pending since then.
“We direct the state government to take a suitable decision on the report within a period of eight weeks,” the court ordered.
The bench was hearing petitions filed by Uber India Ltd, Ola Ltd and six drivers plying cabs with these two companies, challenging the Maharashtra City Taxi Rules implemented by the state government in 2017.
When the petition was heard in November 2017, the government had said it would go through the committee’s report and take a final decision soon. The government said until then it would not take any coercive steps against taxi drivers under the rules.
The petitioners, however, claimed that the rules were arbitrary and bad in law.
“According to the rules, app-based taxis will not be allowed to ply within the Mumbai Metropolitan Region on a national tourist permit. The drivers will have to obtain local permits and will not be allowed to ply on their national tourist permits,” the drivers had said in their petition.
“Obtaining local permits will cost private taxi drivers and owners 10 times more than what it costs the drivers of ‘black and yellow’ taxis,” it added.
The government in its affidavit filed then had said it was pertinent to regulate the operations of mobile application -based cab operators such as Ola and Uber in order to foil their “predatory, monopolistic, and exploitative” business tactics.
The government said the implementation of its new rules was crucial to bring about a level playing field for all cab operators in the city, and to ensure better services to commuters.