Bombay High Court Rejects Rapido's Plea Against Order of Pune RTO denying license

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The high court while rejecting Rapido's plea without costs noted that a bike taxi aggregator cannot decide under what conditions it can operate.

A Division Bench of Justice GS Patel and Justice SG Dige of the Bombay High Court on Friday rejected the petition filed by Roppen Transportation Services Private Limited against the order of RTO Pune rejecting its application for a license of bike taxi aggregator and other services. 

The division bench observed that the stand of the Rapido was contradictory because, on one hand, it argued that Central Government Guideline was applicable and they were allowed to operate, whereas, on the other hand when noncompliance was pointed out in their application, they said that they need not comply with central guidelines.

Senior Advocate Aspi Chinoy appeared for Roppen Transportation and Advocate General Dr. Birendra Saraf appeared for the State Government. 

Senior Advocate Aspi Chinoy argued that on 9th March 2022, the Central Guidelines were made applicable to the State, and as per the government notification, the company had applied for the license before 16th March. He submitted that as per the notification since the application was not decided, the company was allowed to operate till the application was decided. RTO Pune decided on the application of the company and rejected the application.

He submitted that the rejection of the license was on the ground that the State Government did not have a policy in place for bike taxi aggregators. He contended that since the government had notified the Central Guidelines on 9th March 2022, the same were applicable.

Advocate General, Dr. Birendra Saraf for the State Government pointed out to the court that as per the Central Guidelines, there are provisions for an appeal mechanism against the rejection of the application. Further, the company had already filed an appeal against the order of RTO Mumbai rejecting their application for a bike tax aggregator, and the same was not challenged by the company. He also submitted that the application filed by the company was incomplete and it remained unrecited till the disposal of the application. 

The division bench noted that though the state government's lack of a policy for bike taxi aggregators was one of the grounds but it was not the only ground for rejection of the application. The bench said that the rejection of the application should be read with the other paragraphs and observations made by the RTO Pune which said that the necessary documents of the persons plying two-wheeler and three-wheeler services were incomplete and remained unrectified.

With respect to the argument of Senior Advocate Aspi Chinoy that other aggregators were allowed to ply, the court said that show cause notices were issued to other aggregators and action was initiated by the state government. The court observed that since other aggregators were operating illegally, it did not allow the petitioner to claim equity and operate illegally. The court observed,

"Under what conditions the aggregators can ply cannot be assumed by the aggregator"

Case Title: Roppen Transportation Services Pvt. Ltd. vs State of Maharashtra & Ors.