Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of B.V. Nagarathna and J.M. Khazi disposed of the appeal and laid the observations herein under.

The facts of the case are such that permission was sought for running a motorcycle taxi being a transport vehicle as per Notification dated 05/11/2004 as the appellant is seeking permission to run a motorcycle contract carriage permit. The respondent/State had not responded in a positive manner despite the issuance of Notification dated 05/11/2004 and the Central Government taxi policy guidelines to promote urban mobility. Therefore, direction may be issued to respondent Nos.1 to 4 to consider the application for grant of contract carriage permits to run bike taxi to the appellant herein. The instant writ petition was filed seeking a direction to respondent 1 to 4 to take steps to issue necessary permits for running the business of bike taxis as transport vehicles and to grant appropriate permits in respect of contract carriage permits as per the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 and Karnataka Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 (hereinafter referred to as “the MV Act, 1988”, “Central Rules, 1989” and State Rules, 1989” respectively for the sake of brevity).

Counsel for the appellants submitted that Section 2(7) of the MV Act, 1988 which defines contract carriage, which is an inclusive definition and the power of the Central and State Government to control transport vehicles which also includes a contract carriage and the provisions dealing with application for contract carriage permit namely, Section 73 of the MV Act, 1988, the grant of contract carriage permit as per Section 74, the conditions under which they may be granted as well as the waiver of conditions.

It was also submitted that as per Report of the Committee constituted to Propose Taxi Policy Guideline to Promote Urban Mobility, submitted on 15/12/2016 by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, wherein there is a specific reference to encourage and permit new forms of urban mobility like bike sharing and e-rickshaws and to reduce delays and to embrace digital technology online grant of the permits is recommended for such transport vehicles engaged in bike sharing and e-rickshaws for last mile connectivity or even otherwise.

Counsel for the State submitted that as of now, there are no rules which have been framed for the issuance of permits to motorcycle taxis as such and the Department would have to examine whether under the extant provisions of the MV Act, 1988 and the Rules made thereunder by the State and Central Government, the request for permit sought for by the appellant could be considered.

The Court observed that the definition of contract carriage, is an inclusive definition and not an exhaustive one, which would include even a motorcycle taxi which is to be used for hire or reward on which a passenger could be carried on pillion as it is categorized as a transport vehicle by issuance of notification by the Central Government under the provisions of the MV Act, 1988. Section 2 (28) of the MV Act defines a ‘motor vehicle’ or ‘vehicle’ as mechanically propelled vehicle adapted for use upon roads which includes a Chassis and sub-section (27) of Section 2 defines a ‘motorcycle’ which means a two-wheeled motor vehicle, inclusive of any detachable side-car having an extra wheel, attached to the motor vehicle.

The Court further observed that a motorcycle could be used for hire to carry one passenger as a pillion. Even as per the Central Government Notification such a motorcycle used for hire would, prima facie, come within the definition of contract carriage as defined under Section 2(7) MV Act, 1988, wherein a “contract carriage” means a motor vehicle which carries a passenger or passengers for hire or reward and is engaged under a contract, whether express or implied, for the use of such vehicle as a whole for the carriage of passengers mentioned therein and entered into by a person with a holder of a permit in relation to such vehicle or any person authorized by him in this behalf on a fixed or an agreed rate or sum. The definition of contract carriage is an inclusive definition, which includes a maxi-cab and a motor-cab notwithstanding that separate fares are charged for its passengers.

The Court thus held learned senior counsel for the appellant submits that the appellant would make an application within a period of two weeks from today. If such an application is made, respondent Nos.1 to 4 shall consider the same in accordance with law within a period of two months from today.”

[Ani Technologies v. State of Karnataka, 2021 SCC OnLine Kar 11972, decided on 05-04-2021]

Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Counsel for the Appellants: Adv. Arun Kumar and Adv. Chethana K.N.

Counsel for the Respondent 1- 4: Adv. Shwetha Krishnappa

Counsel for the Respondent 5: Adv. Madanan Pillai and Adv. Sahana Devanathan

Counsel for the Respondent 6: Adv. Lomesh Nidumuri

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