The Karnataka High Court on May 5, directed the State government to in two months time consider and decide on the representation made for grant of permits for running a motorcycle taxi service in the state.
The division bench of Justice B.V. Nagarathna and Justice J.H. Kazi passed this order while hearing a Writ Appeal filed by ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd.
Appellant’s counsel contended that the
appellant had filed the writ Petition seeking a direction to respondents to take steps to issue necessary permits for running the business of bike taxis as transport vehicles and to grant appropriate permits in respect of contract carriage permits in respect of contract carriage permits as per the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 and Karnataka Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.
In this Petition, the grievance of the appellant is that respondents are not accepting the application sought to be filed by the appellant so as to seek permit under the provisions of Chapter VI of the MV Act, 1988 which deals with Special Provisions Relating to State Transport Undertakings and Chapter V deals with Control of Transport Vehicles including the issuance of permits for contract carriage vehicles.
The Court said that the Counsel for the appellant further drew our attention to Section 2(7) of the MV Act, 1988 which defines contract carriage, which is an inclusive definition and the power of the Central and State Government to control transport vehicles which also includes a contract carriage and the provisions dealing with application for contract carriage permit namely, Section 73 of the MV Act, 1988, the grant of contract carriage permit as per Section 74, the conditions under which they may be granted as well as the waiver of conditions.
Senior Counsel submitted that the appellant would make one more application in accordance with the provisions of the MV Act, 1988 and the applicable Rules for seeking a contract carriage permit in respect of motorcycle used for hire to carry one passenger on pillion on hire as per Entry (iii) under the column Transport Vehicles vide Notification dated November 05, 2004.
The Court stated that the Senior Counsel also drew our attention to the report of the Committee constituted to Propose Taxi Policy Guideline to Promote Urban Mobility, submitted on December 15, 2016 by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, wherein there is a specific reference to encourage and permit new forms of urban mobility like bike sharing and e -rickshaws and to reduce delays and to embrace digital technology online grant of the permits is recommended for such transport vehicles engaged in bike sharing and e -rickshaws for last mile connectivity or even otherwise.
Senior Counsel submitted that all that the appellant had sought in the writ Petition was a writ of mandamus to respondents to consider the application of the appellant for issuance of such a permit under the provisions of the MV Act, 1988 and the applicable Rules. This was because, the respondent/State had not responded in a positive manner despite the issuance of Notification dated November 05, 2004 and the Central Government taxi policy guidelines to promote urban mobility.
Therefore, direction may be issued to respondents to consider the application for grant of contract carriage permits to run bike taxi to the appellant herein.
Shwetha Krishnappa, AGA appearing for respondents submitted that as of now, there are no rules which have been framed for the issuance of permits to motorcycle taxis as such and the Department would have to examine whether under the extant provisions of the MV Act, 1988 and the Rules made thereunder by the State and Central Government, the request for permit sought for by the appellant could be considered.
She submitted that if the Court is to issue a direction to consider the case of the appellant herein for the grant of permits for running a motorcycle taxi service, the same would be considered in accordance with law.
Further, at this stage, no observations may be made with regard to the issuance of the permit as such as the concept of issuance of transport permits to motorcycle taxis is an emerging issue and hence, the State would have to apply its mind on all aspects of matter, the Court observed.
Counsel for respondents submitted that if the Court is to issue a direction to respondents to consider the request application to be made, then all such applications or requests to be made by all the interested parties may be considered within a time frame to be fixed by the Court.
The Court held that, therefore, a motorcycle could be used for hire to carry one passenger as a pillion. Even as per the Central Government Notification such a motorcycle used for hire would, prima facie, come within the definition of contract carriage as defined under sub-section (7) of Section 2 of the MV Act, 1988, wherein a “contract carriage” means a motor vehicle which carries a passenger or passengers for hire or reward and is engaged under a contract, whether express or implied, for the use of such vehicle as a whole for the carriage of passengers mentioned therein and entered into by a person with a holder of a permit in relation to such vehicle or any person authorized by him in this behalf on a fixed or an agreed rate or sum.
The Court further observed that, “the definition of contract carriage, is an inclusive definition and not an exhaustive one, which would include even a motorcycle taxi which is to be used for hire or reward on which a passenger could be carried on pillion as it is categorized as a transport vehicle by issuance of notification by the Central Government under the provisions of the MV Act, 1988,”.
In this regard, reference could also be made to sub -section (28) of Section 2 of the Act which defines a ‘motor vehicle’ or ‘vehicle’ which means mechanically propelled vehicle adapted for use upon roads which includes a Chassis and sub-section (27) of Section 2 which defines a ‘motorcycle’ which means a two-wheeled motor vehicle, inclusive of any detachable side-car having an extra wheel, attached to the motor vehicle, the Court said.
The Court also observed that, in the instant case, the permit sought is with regard to renting of motor cabs or motorcycles/taxi service for hire or reward and therefore, we find that the applications to be made by the appellant or any other entity similarly situated for seeking such a permission ought to be considered by respondents having regard to the provisions as well as in accordance with law.
“At this stage, Senior Counsel for the appellant submitted that the appellant would make an application within a period of two weeks from today. If such an application is made, respondents shall consider the same in accordance with law within a period of two months from today”, the order said.