The Supreme Court on February 13 asked Uber to apply for a fresh license in Maharashtra in three weeks’ time (by March 6), to continue its operations in the state.
The earlier interim order by the Supreme Court, which allowed Uber to operate in the state cannot sustain itself as the law mandates that an aggregator cannot operate without a license, the bench observed on February 13. The Supreme Court observed that Motor Vehicles Act, as amended in 2019, makes it clear that aggregators cannot operate without a valid license.
The Court was hearing a plea by Uber challenging a March 2022 Bombay High Court order, directing it to apply for an aggregator license in the state as per the Motor Vehicles Aggregator (MVA) Guidelines of 2020 issued by the Central government. The HC , while not prohibiting aggregators from plying cabs in the state, asked them to obtain licenses in a stipulated period of time, meanwhile saying it was aware such a move would adversely affect commuters.
In April 2022, the SC ordered status quo in the case, permitting it to operate without obtaining license. It is Uber’s contention that the conditions imposed by the guidelines of the Central government were not practicable and it may be difficult to follow them in letter and spirit.
On February 13, Maharashtra informed the SC that no adverse action was being taken against Uber although its license had not been renewed, since it was updated immediately after the court’s interim order. This prompted the court to observe that Uber cannot function on the strength of SC’s status quo order from April 2022, without having obtained a license.
The court further permitted Uber to submit a representation showing unworkability of some of the conditions, and asked Maharashtra to take a call on the same representation and take a decision so that pending finalisation of rules can be completed. The Court also asked Maharashtra to expeditiously work for a policy complying the framework of the MVA guidelines.