The Karnataka High Court has blocked the state government from taking enforcement action against ANI Technologies, which operates Ola Cabs, for operating cycle taxis in the state. The order will remain in effect until the next court date.
A single judge’s bench of Judge Pradeep Singh Yerur in its ordinance adopted on February 18 says, “It is needless to mention and it appears from the record that, although the application was filed by the applicant as early as 19.04.2021 pursuant to the written appeal order adopted by this Court, a clear instruction was given to them respondents to consider the application preferred by the petitioner herein for the grant of permission to use bicycle taxis in the State of Karnataka.”
He added, “In view of the fact that a similar order was adopted in WP.No.14627/2021 in which the petitioner obtained interim relief by ordering the state government not to take any coercive action, the petitioner who is also in a similar business of providing bicycle taxis also merits interim protection in this regard. Accordingly, Respondents Nos. 1 to 4 will take no coercive action against the applicant for operating bicycle taxis, in the area he specified in the motion filed for leave, until the next court date.”
The company went to court because the government failed to consider its application for permission to operate cycle taxis, in accordance with a High Court order.
The High Court had, by its order dated 5 April 2021, ordered the authorities to review and decide within two months on the representation made for the granting of permits for the operation of a service of motorcycle taxi in the state.
The claimants had argued that section 2(7) of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 defines contract carriage, which is an inclusive definition and the power of central and state government to control transport vehicles , which also includes contract carriage and the provisions dealing with application for contract carriage viz. In addition, in accordance with Article 73 of the MV Law, the granting of a contractual transport permit. Article 74 sets the conditions under which they can be granted as well as the exemption from conditions.
Consequently, authorization is requested for the operation of a motorcycle taxi as a transport vehicle in accordance with the notification of 05/11/2004.
Reliance was also the report of the Committee formed to propose guidelines on taxi policy to promote urban mobility, presented on 12/15/2016 by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, in which there is a specific reference for encourage and enable new forms of urban mobility. such as bike sharing and e-rickshaws and to reduce delays and embrace digital technology, online licensing is recommended for such transport vehicles engaged in bike sharing and e-rickshaws for connectivity of the last mile or even otherwise.
The court said in ruling on the appeal: “A motorcycle could be used for hire to carry a passenger as a passenger. Even according to the central government notification, such a motorcycle used for hire would, on its face, fall within the definition of contracted carriage as defined in subsection (7) of section 2 of the MV Act 1988 .“
Further, he had said “The definition of contracted carriage is an inclusive definition, which includes a maxi-cab and a motor-cab notwithstanding that separate fares are charged for its passengers. The definition of contracted transport is an inclusive and non-exhaustive definition, which would even include a motorcycle taxi which is to be used for rental or reward purposes on which a passenger could be transported as a passenger because it is classified as a transport vehicle by issuance of a notification by the central government under the provisions of the MV Act, 1988.“
The Government Advocate, appearing in this case on notice, requested time to take the necessary instructions in the matter as to why the petitioner’s claim was not considered.
Accordingly, the matter was adjourned for a week.
Case Title: ANI TECHNOLOGIES PRIVATE LIMITED v. KARNATAKA STATE
Case No: WP 19869/2021