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Maharashtra Uber licensing: Supreme Court orders status quo

The Supreme Court has ordered that status quo be maintained in regulating cab aggregators in Maharashtra, Live Law reported. The court’s order has not been made available online as of this story’s publication. Abhishek Manu Singhvi represented Uber in the case, and the order was passed by justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai. The case will be up for hearing again in two weeks.

We have reached out to Uber for comment.

In March, the Bombay High Court ordered that cab hailing apps should be required to register for licenses with local authorities, even though the Maharashtra government had not framed rules for doing so. Uber reportedly argued in court that the High Court had overreached in going into the specifics of who the cab companies would have to approach for these licenses, among other particulars. 

In 2020, the union government issued the Motor Vehicles Aggregator Guidelines, announced as a way to give Indian states a template to regulate transportation aggregators like Ola and Uber. The Bombay High Court had essentially required aggregators to comply with the regulations suggested in the union government’s guidelines, in response to a Public Interest Litigation suit. Singhvi argued that this was inappropriate in light of the Maharashtra government itself being in the process of implementing the regulations.

Uber and Ola had reportedly already started applying for these licenses at various regional transportation offices in Maharashtra, even as they worked to appeal the Bombay High Court’s order. Business Standard reported that these applications were made in spite of the fact that Uber cars weren’t compliant with some of the requirements, such as having a panic button inside vehicles.

The Maharashtra government faced flak from the Bombay High Court for not putting out rules quick enough. As such, the state government sided with the court’s view that until it finalized its own rules, aggregators would have to comply with the court’s judgment, and apply for licenses. This requirement is now on hold as the Supreme Court hears the case.

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