Maharashtra government has released the draft Maharashtra City Taxi Rules, 2016, to regulate app-based taxi
operators who are operating in a manner which blurs the distinction between street-hail taxi and pre-booked (for hire) taxis, amid repeated calls by the kali pilee taxi and auto rikshaw drivers to go on strike.
The government plans to regulate the licensing of such taxi permits. The licence will be granted to a firm registered under the Indian Partnership Act, 1932, or a company registered under the Companies Act, 2013.
What the draft rule says
“The application is so designed that the driver of the taxi does not know the destination of the customer nor does he determine the fare to be charged. These are determined by the aggregator’s software. For all practical purposes, the commuter hires a taxi from such an aggregator and the aggregator has offered such a service, and is, therefore, amenable to and required to be regulated alike any other taxi service provider”
The licensee will abide by all relevant statutes as may be applicable, including the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, and the Information Technology Act, 2000, and the rules made thereunder. The state transport department, which has issued these new rules, has sought suggestions and objections from various stake holders by November 5.
According to the draft rules, "Aggregator means a person who is an operator or an intermediary/marketplace who canvasses or solicits or facilitates passengers for travel by a taxi or any other public service vehicle and who connects the passenger/intending passenger to a driver of a taxi or any other public service vehicle through phone calls, internet, web-based services or GPS/GPRS-based services whether or not any fare, fee, commission, brokerage or other charges are collected for providing such services." No taxi will be offered for hire through an aggregator who is not registered under these rules.
Justifying the need for the regulations, the transport department in the draft rules
said that app-based aggregators are recent entrants into this field and they mostly use smartphones to connect a taxi and a commuter. "The application is so designed that the driver of the taxi does not know the destination of the customer, nor does he determine the fare to be charged. These are determined by the aggregator software. For all practical purposes, the commuter had hired a taxi from such aggregator and the aggregator has offered such a services, and is, therefore, amenable to and required to be regulated alike any other taxi service provider," it added.
Further, the licensee will ensure a mechanism for protecting the rights of women employees as stipulated under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. The licensee will maintain a 24X7 control room with adequate manpower.
However, the draft rules
say that open-type or nonhard-top or fibre-top vehicles are not allowed. The vehicles attached to any aggregator will be operated under a permit to be called the "App-Based City Taxi Permit".
As far as the profile of the driver is concerned, he or she should have a valid commercial driving license to drive a taxi and a valid public service vehicle badge by the licensing authority. Besides, the driver will have adequate knowledge of the roads and routes of the area of operation, so that the passengers are not inconvenienced. The driver on duty will be in uniform as approved by the licensing authority or according to the company's design.