The HC has directed the department to not take any coercive action against Rapido and Uber until specific norms governing the space are formulated
Rapido said the HC order will prevent ‘undue hardships’ faced by its drivers due to challans issued by the Delhi transport department
The relief comes days after the Delhi government released the draft vehicle aggregator scheme, underlining a slew of guidelines for bike aggregators
In a major respite to ride-hailing apps, the Delhi High Court on Friday (May 26) reportedly stayed a previous public notice issued by Delhi Transport Department that effectively banned bike taxi services in the national capital.
As per the Economic Times, a bench comprising Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna set aside the public notice and show cause notice issued by the transport authorities in February 2023. Besides, it also directed the Delhi government to file its response on a plea moved by Rapido in connection with the case.
The HC also directed the department to not take any coercive action against Rapido until specific norms related to the space are formulated.
“The Hon’ble High Court has ordered that no coercive steps shall be taken by the concerned authorities in the Delhi NCT against Rapido bike taxis and its riders until requisite regulation to regulate the operation of bike taxis is notified by the government,” said a counsel for Rapido.
In a separate order, the HC also granted protection to Uber in response to a plea filed by the US-based ride-hailing giant.
Representing Rapido, advocate Abhishek Awasthi welcomed the decision and said that the HC’s order will prevent ‘undue hardships’ faced by its drivers due to challans issued by the local transport department.
The HC directive comes a few months after Delhi’s transport department in a sweeping order in February 2023 banned all players from offering bike taxi services in the national capital. It also announced a penalty of INR 1 Lakh on aggregators found flouting the order.
In a plea filed before the Court, Rapido claimed that the transport department’s diktat banning bike taxis was passed without any reason or rationale. Challenging the show-cause notice, Rapido, in its plea, claimed that the order violated various fundamental and constitutional rights and infringed principles of natural justice.
“The direction issued by the transport department under the impugned notice is ex-facie arbitrary and passed without following due process under law, without providing any reasons for such prohibition,” Rapido’s plea claimed.
The bike taxi platform also claimed that the Delhi government’s conduct on the issuance of licences to aggregators was in direct contrast with the intent and object of the Centre. Rapido also claimed that a blanket ban on its services in the national capital impacted the lives and livelihoods of a huge number of its delivery executives and daily commuters.
The relief from the HC coincides with the Delhi government releasing a draft set of guidelines for bike aggregators under the ‘Draft Delhi Motor Vehicle Aggregator and Delivery Services Provider Scheme’. The proposed rules were published on May 24 and have been opened up for public feedback.
While the HC order allows bike aggregators to freely ply on the roads, the rules framed by the Delhi government impose the caveat that all bike taxis operational in the national capital should only be electric vehicles.
The new draft rules could easily render the existing bike taxi fleet of Rapido, Ola and Uber illegal while these could be forced to spend heavily on the electrification of their fleet.
Not just the aggregators, industry body Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has also reportedly come out in favour of these players and has urged the Delhi government to not penalise drivers and bike taxi aggregators.
Apart from Delhi, ride-hailing apps have also run into trouble with other state governments. In recent months, the Maharashtra government refused to grant an aggregator licence to Rapido while the Karnataka government also barred app-based platforms from operating auto-rickshaws in Bengaluru.