The Centre today told the Delhi High Court that a high level panel set up by it has proposed guidelines for regulating taxi services in the country, which have been sent to the state governments for action. The submission was made before Justice Manmohan by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways which had set up the high level committee to examine issues related to black and yellow cabs, radio taxis and aggregators like Ola and Uber. The ministry, represented by Centre’s standing counsel Manish Mohan, also said the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was passed by the Lok Sabha on April 10.
The Delhi government, represented by senior standing counsel Rahul Mehra, said it cannot take a decision or implement the committee’s guidelines right now as the model code of conduct was in place due to the upcoming MCD polls. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government sought more time to take a decision and to place it before the court. The court, thereafter, listed the matter for further hearing on August 2 to await the passage of the amendment Bill in Parliament as well as the decision expected to be taken by the Delhi government to implement the panel’s recommendations.
Earlier, the court had said that the policy should have minimum interference by the government and market forces should be allowed to operate, as measures to regulate this emerging sector could “bring in corruption”. The court had said that any regulatory mechanism that is set up, ought to remain in the periphery. It was hearing a batch of petitions filed by radio taxi operators against the Delhi government for allowing Ola and Uber to operate without any licence, while the two companies have filed contempt pleas against each other for alleged violation of court orders.
The panel’s key recommendations include state governments facilitating unhindered grant of permits for city taxis and All India Tourist Permit (AITP) cabs without any restriction on numbers. The suggestions also include online conversion of compliant personal vehicles to commercial taxis on payment of requisite charges to facilitate use of idle assets and tariff of deluxe taxis being determined by market dynamics.
The committee had also said that the maximum tariff may be permitted up to three times the minimum tariff and to enhance the availability of taxis at night, the maximum tariff may be allowed up to four times that of minimum tariff between midnight and 5 AM. It had recommended that city taxis may continue as street hailing cabs and may also be allowed to ply on the aggregator platform, like Ola or Uber, if they so desire.
The panel had also suggested that AITP taxis may be allowed to operate for all purposes except as street hailing cabs and such vehicles would have to comply with the fuel specified for a city while operating for aggregators for intra city transport on long-term hiring/leasing.