Observing that no person including digital interposers can continue as an aggregator in the absence of a license, the Supreme Court on Monday asked Uber India to apply for it with transport authorities for continuing its services in Maharashtra. The top court took serious note of thenon-framing of rules for public transport aggregators under the Motor Vehicles Act by the Maharashtra government, saying the state shouldn’t “wobble” as “vacillation” leads to query in the business of aggregators.
“You (Uber) apply for a licence or cleave to guidelines You can not operate under an interim order of the court. You can not work as an aggregator without a licence and that’s a statutory accreditation. We’re of the view that interim order permitting them to operate without a licence can not stand, as an aggregator can not work in absence of a licence. Uber will apply for a licence within a period of three weeks, on or before March 6, 2023,” said a Bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud. Uber is plying its trade in Maharashtra under a provisional aggregator licence, which was awarded to it following a Bombay High Court order in March 2022.
The CJI- led bench also pulled up the Maharashtra government for the query. Meanwhile, Uber can submit a representation showing unworkability of some of the conditions and the state to take a call on the same representation and take a decision so that pending finalisation of rules, a decision is taken regarding entitlement of license under MVA,the order stated. High court had passed the directions while hearing public interest action filed by advocate Savina Crasto pressing the lack of an effective grievance redressal medium for guests using the Uber had cited an incident from November 2020, when she reserved an Uber lift in the megacity and was dropped off mid-way at a “shady dark place” and she set up that the establishment’s app had no effective option to lodge complaints.
Though the central government had issued the Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines, meant to regulate similar taxicabs, those in the state were operating based on permits issued to them under Maharashtra City Taxi Rules 2017.