Delhi High Court provides relief to Ola, Rapido; stays taxi ban order

In a major relief for ride-sharing companies Uber, Ola and Rapido, the Delhi High Court on Friday blocked a government notice banning bike-taxi services in Delhi.

A panel of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Nina Bansal Krishna also directed the transport department to refrain from taking any coercive measures against Rapido and other ride-sharing platforms until a comprehensive policy is formulated.

In February this year, Delhi’s Department of Transport asked mobility operators such as Uber, Ola and Rapido to stop offering bike taxi services. Delhi Transport Department on February 20 issued a public notice and directed these platforms to cease operations immediately to avoid prosecution and penalty. “It has been alerted that two-wheelers bearing a non-carriage (private) registration mark/numbers are being used to carry charter passengers, which is a purely commercial operation and a violation of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988,” the department said in the notice.

An Uber spokesperson said: “We welcome the Honorable Supreme Court’s order to grant Uber protection from coercive measures on taxis in Delhi.” “This will relieve the drivers on our platform whose livelihoods have been affected by the ban as well as the hundreds and thousands of riders who have chosen to ride moto for affordability and last-mile connectivity. We are committed to serving the city and being the platform of choice for riders and drivers alike.”

Rapidu also welcomed the Delhi High Court’s order. The company said the court had declared that “no coercive measures will be taken against the taxi operators and riders by the concerned authorities of the NCT in Delhi until the government notifies the necessary regulations to regulate the operations of the bike taxis.”

“It is a resounding victory and a powerful testament to the huge impact bike taxis are having on millions of people in our national capital,” said a Rapido spokesperson. “Bicycle taxis are a transformative innovation for a thriving city and progressive country like India, tackling the crippling challenges of traffic congestion, unemployment, affordability, last-mile connectivity and environmental pollution.”

In February, the Department of Transport also said that any violation would result in a fine of Rs 5,000 in the first instance. For the second or subsequent offense, there is imprisonment, which may extend to one year and carry a fine of up to Rs 10,000, along with vehicle impoundment. “In addition, the driver’s driving license will be suspended for a period of not less than three years under the supervision of the Honorable Supreme Court,” the notice read.

The notice also mentioned that some digital platforms (Rapido, Ola, Uber), facilitate such operations by offering booking through an app, thus engaging as aggregator in violation of the provisions of Section 93. A fine of up to Rs will be charged. 1 lakh under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.