SC adjourns till Jun 9 hearing on Delhi govt plea against HC order staying notice to Rapido

The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned till June 9 the hearing on the Delhi government’s plea challenging a high court order staying a notice to bike-taxi aggregator Rapido and allowing it to operate till the final policy has been notified.

A vacation bench of justices Aniruddha Bose and Rajesh Bindal deferred the matter after senior advocate N K Kaul, appearing for Uber, said their matter was identical in nature but was not listed for hearing on Wednesday.

“The order passed in our matter has been appealed against. Let this case be heard on Friday,” he said.

The top court then agreed to hear the matter on Friday.

On Monday, senior advocate Manish Vashisht, appearing for the Delhi government, mentioned the matter, seeking an urgent hearing. He said the high court’s decision to stay the government’s notice till the final policy is notified is like virtually allowing the writ petition by Rapido.

On May 26, while issuing a notice to the Delhi government on Rapido’s plea challenging a law that excludes two-wheelers from being registered as transport vehicles, the high court directed that no coercive action should be taken against the bike-taxi aggregator till the final policy was notified.

The high court, which listed Rapido’s plea on August 22 before the registrar for completion of pleading, said in its order, “The counsel for the petitioners (Rapido) submits that policy is under active consideration.”

“Accordingly, we hereby stay the notice and make it clear that the stay shall operate till the final policy is notified. However, once the final policy is notified, if the petitioners are still aggrieved, they are at liberty to take steps before the appropriate forum,” the high court said.

In its petition before the high court, Roppen Transportation Services Private Limited, which runs Rapido, has said the Delhi government order directing it to immediately stop plying non-transport two-wheelers from carrying passengers on hire-and-reward or for commercial purposes was passed without any reason or rationale.

In a public notice issued earlier this year, the government had cautioned bike-taxis against plying in Delhi and warned that violations would make aggregators liable for a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh.

Rapido has also challenged a show-cause notice issued to it by the city government in that context, saying it is in violation of various fundamental and constitutional rights, and has been passed in violation of the principles of natural justice.

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“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,” the plea said.

It also said that the city government’s conduct was contrary to the intent and object of the Centre with respect to the issuance of licences to aggregators as laid down under the Motor Vehicles Act, read with the Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines, 2020 (MoRTH Guidelines).

“Transport department is yet to come up with its own guidelines with respect to plying of two-wheeler non-transport vehicles as transport vehicles for the purpose of aggregation and ride-sharing/ride-pooling.

“MoRTH Guidelines expressly allowed vehicle pooling in non-transport vehicles in furtherance of the central and state governments’ objective of reducing traffic congestion and automobile pollution and achieving effective asset utilisation unless it is prohibited by the state government,” the plea said.

It also said a blanket ban on the petitioner’s services impacts the lives and livelihood of a huge number of vehicle owners and riders as well as a substantial number of daily commuters.

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