Observing that plain reading of the Maharashtra city taxi rules shows it “discriminates” between black and yellow taxis and mobile App-based cab services, the Bombay High Court today asked the state government to be “more rational” and allow fair competition. A division bench of Justices R M Sawant and Sadhana Jadhav 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 this year. “On a plain reading of the rules we found you (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 kali peeli taxis are given benefit. You (government) treat everyone on par. Make it more rational. Let there be fair competition,” Justice Savant said. Giving examples of places like London and the United States of America, Justice Savant said, “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 trend-setter for other states in India.”
Additional government pleader GW Mattos today sought time to file 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. The petitions submitted that the rules were arbitrary and bad in law. “According to rules, app-based taxis will not be allowed to ply within 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 ten times more than what it costs the drivers of black and yellow taxis,” it contended.