Friday, February 23, 2024

Supreme Court rejects PIL seeking regulation of app-based cabs, says it is not inclined to interfere

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The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking directions to the Union of India and state governments to frame rules and regulations for app based cab services. The PIL demanded to formulate rules according to the provisions of Section 93 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1989, to address issues like absence of security arrangements, overcharging and arbitrary cancellation of cab rides. 

The Bench led by Chief Justice D.Y Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Mishra ruled that they are not inclined to interfere under Article 32 of the Constitution at the behest of the petitioner who claims to be a social activist. The bench added that while they decline to exercise jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution, they clarify that they have not expressed any opinions on the merits. 

Advocate Umesh Sharma and Advocate Akhil Rana who appeared for the petitioner submitted that the they seek rules for aggregators that regulate the licensing. At the outset, the CJI questioned their identity to which the lawyers clarified that the petitioner is a social activist. Following, the CJI enquired why should the bench entertain such a petition.

CJI D.Y Chandrachud noted that at times social activists are pushed by some business interest, adding that some other person who is directly aggrieved can approach the court and ask to frame rules for the aggregators. Responding to the Chief Justice, the counsel remarked that the aggregators are themselves not aggrieved, instead are benefited and that they have no reasons to come. 

Nonetheless, the apex court dismissed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL). The PIL mentioned that till date the State Governments have not succeeded in framing regulations for aggregators in alignment with the amended Section 93 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The PIL also stressed on various issues like security concerns due to lack of  defined rules, unfair practices like charging extra under the pretext of changing the pickup location multiple times among others. 

The Public Interest Litigation read that non-framing of these rules amounts to violation of the Motor Vehicles Act as a result of which the aggregator companies are not able to provide services to the public at large properly resulting in violation of fundamental rights of the people. It noted that the central government has already issued Rules and Regulation in November 2020 immediately after notification issued for the modification of Section 93 of the Motor Vehicles Act but the majority of states have failed to frame the rules as applicable thereby leading to a chaotic situation and lawlessness.

The petition also asserted that the non-regulation of the sector has left the passengers at the mercy of aggregators who are nothing more than intermediary, collecting huge amounts of money from the passengers.

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