In a dramatic turn of events, the Supreme Court has slammed the brakes on bike taxi apps in Delhi, dealing a blow to the likes of Uber, Rapido, and Ola. The apex court of the country put on hold a prior decision by the Delhi High Court (which was passed on May 26), and comes in response to two pleas filed by the Delhi government against the order by the HC that allowed bike-taxi aggregators to operate until the final policy on plying two-wheeler non-transport vehicles was notified by the administration.
“We stay both the impugned orders passed by the Delhi High Court,” said a vacation bench consisting of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Rajesh Bindal.
Bike taxis have played a crucial role in improving last-mile connectivity, bridging the gap between public transportation hubs and final destinations. By offering a quick and efficient mode of transportation, they have contributed to reducing congestion and easing traffic congestion in congested cities like Delhi. The ban on bike taxi services could potentially disrupt the last-mile connectivity options available to commuters, leading to increased reliance on private vehicles and worsening traffic conditions.
This is a big blow to bike taxi aggregators and operators. Bike taxi apps have provided employment opportunities to many individuals, especially those seeking flexible work arrangements. With the ban in place, these drivers are likely to face financial hardships and job uncertainty. Furthermore, bike taxis have gained popularity as an affordable and convenient transportation option, particularly for short-distance travel in congested urban areas. With the ban reinstated, commuters who heavily relied on these services may face difficulties in finding reliable and efficient alternatives for their daily commute.
For its part, the Delhi government said that it would frame guidelines and licensing policies for bike aggregators by the end of July to regulate their operations. For those who need a refresher, the transport department issued a public notice to aggregators like Uber, Rapido, and Ola to stop operating their bike taxi services at that time.
That was back in February, and the department informed in a notice that, “It has been brought to the notice that two-wheelers having non-transport (private) registration mark/numbers are being used to carry passengers on hire which is a purely commercial operation and a violation of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988.” Furthermore, the notice warned that companies defying the order would be fined up to ₹1 lakh, and the driving licence of the driver will be suspended for a minimum period of three years.
Later, on May 26, the HC issued a notice to the Delhi government in response to Rapido’s plea, challenging a law that excluded two-wheelers from being registered as transport vehicles. At that time, it also directed that no coercive action should be taken against the bike-taxi aggregator until the final policy was announced. The Delhi government challenged the order of the Delhi High Court in the Supreme Court.