Sunday, June 4, 2023

Maharashtra: Supreme Court directs Uber to apply for licence by March 6 under Motor Vehicle Amendment Act, 2019

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The Supreme Court directed Uber on Monday to apply for a licence under the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act, 2019 within a period of three weeks (by March 6), to continue its services as an aggregator in the state of Maharashtra.

The Bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice P.S. Narasimha and Justice J.B. Pardiwala ordered the government of Maharashtra to expeditiously frame the guidelines for aggregators.

The top court of the country further gave liberty to Uber to make a representation before the state government regarding its grievance. The State of Maharashtra was directed to decide on the representation within two weeks.

In case Uber was not satisfied with the Maharashtra government’s decision, the Bench gave it liberty to approach the Bombay High Court in the matter.

Uber had moved the Apex Court against the Bombay High Court verdict of March 7, 2022, which directed the cab aggregators to comply with the Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines, 2020.
The Central government had notified the Aggregator Guidelines in exercise of its powers under Section 93 (1) of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988.

On March 7 last year, the High Court Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice Vinay Joshi had directed that the aggregators must apply for licence by March 16 last year, for operating in the state of Maharashtra.

The Apex Court had granted interim relief to Uber In April last year and directed status quo on the order of the Bombay High Court.

The CJI-led Bench ruled that till the time the Maharashtra government notified or compiled its draft rules, the Central Rules (Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines 2020) would be applicable in the state. 

The Apex Court noted that the first proviso to Section 93(1) stipulated that while issuing licence to the aggregator, the state government may follow the Central government Rules. No rules have been notified by the state government, it added.

Today’s Supreme Court judgment was in line with its verdict in the case related to  two-wheeler bike taxi aggregator Rapido, which had challenged the Maharashtra government’s refusal to grant licence to the company. 

In that order too, the court had noted that the general rule making power was entrusted with the state government for implementing the provisions.

The top court of the country observed that Uber’s argument stating that the Central guidelines could not be complied with, was a policy matter pertaining to the jurisdiction of the state government. In view of the statutory regime, no person was allowed to continue as aggregator in absence of licence, it added.

Senior Advocate Dhruv Mehta appeared for Uber, while Advocate Dharmadhikari represented the State of Maharashtra.

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