Rapido applauds Karnataka Government’s decision to withdraw policy on electric Bike Taxis

Company offers to partner closely with the Karnataka state government to develop a robust framework for bike taxis in the state

Bangalore, March 12, 2024: Rapido, a leading bike taxi platform, extends its warm appreciation to the Government of Karnataka for its recent decision to withdraw the electric bike taxi policy, notified in 2021. This significant move reflects the government’s commitment to fostering a conducive environment for innovation and growth within the ride-hailing sector.

However, there is confusion surrounding the government’s withdrawal of the electric bike taxi scheme as well as inaccurate information circulating on social media platforms. The Company pointed out that the recent order issued by the State Government of Karanataka nowhere mentions banning Rapido or any other aggregator operating under the protection of the High Court order.

We clarify that the Electric Bike Taxi Scheme notified in 2021 and now withdrawn in 2024 only pertains to grant of license for operating Electric Bike Taxis, this fact is self-evident under Clause 1(4) which specifically mention that this scheme shall only apply for Battery operated electric motorcycle or electric bike.

Rapido would like to shed light on the legal status of its operations and other similarly placed aggregators operating two-wheelers as bike taxis in the State of Karnataka. The issue of operation on bike taxis has been pending with the Hon’ble High Court since 2021.

The High Court had passed an interim protective order in favour of Rapido back in 2021 observed as follows-

“Petitioner (Rapido) submitted application for grant of bike Aggregator’s Licence to the Commissioner of Transport and it was rejected while issuing an endorsement that petitioners are required to file application for grant of Aggregator’s Licence before authority as specified in the Karnataka Electricity Bike Taxi Scheme 2021. Grievance of the petitioner in the application is for issuance of grant of bike Aggregator’s Licence not under the Electricity Bike Taxi Scheme. Therefore, there is non- application of mind in issuing the endorsement, since, reference is to the Karnataka Electricity Bike Taxi Scheme, 2020-21. On the other hand, petitioner’s grievance is for issuance of licence to general bike taxi’” and the High Court basis these specific observations directed the State Government of Karnataka not to take any coercive steps against the aggregator or its riders operating in the State of Karnataka. This protective interim order remains subsisting till date.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) on 22nd January also recently issued an advisory clarifying that motorcycles fall within the definition of contract carriages as per section 2(7) of the Motor vehicles (MV) Act, 1988.

Pavan Guntupalli, co-founder of Rapido, stated, “We want to assure our customers and captains that Rapido will continue to operate seamlessly within Karnataka. Rapido is upholding the interim order from the Hon’ble High Court, which recognizes the legality of Rapido’s operations, reinforces our resolve to continue serving the people of Karnataka. With over 1,000,000 bike taxi rides happening in Bengaluru alone, it’s evident that bike taxis play a crucial role in Karnataka’s transportation ecosystem. This data highlights the significant demand and reliance placed on bike taxis for convenient and efficient mobility solutions across the state. Rapido expresses confidence that the Transport Department of the Government of Karnataka will adopt a more comprehensive approach, in line with the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act and the recent advisory issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) related to grant of contract carriage permit to two wheelers. We firmly believe that the revised approach will facilitate the grant of contract carriage permits to two-wheelers and bike taxis, aligning Karnataka with states that have successfully implemented similar models. This move is not only crucial for the growth of the sector but also ensures compliance with the existing provisions of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 and Motor Vehicle Rules. ”

It is worth mentioning that the recent notification issued by the government nowhere mentions banning Rapido or any other aggregator operating under the protection of the High Court order.

Rapido expresses confidence that the Transport Department of the Government of Karnataka will adopt a more comprehensive approach, in line with the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act and the recent advisory issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) related to grant of contract carriage permit to two wheelers. We firmly believe that the revised approach will facilitate the grant of contract carriage permits to two-wheelers and bike taxis, aligning Karnataka with states that have successfully implemented similar models. This move is not only crucial for the growth of the sector but also ensures compliance with the existing provisions of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 and Motor Vehicle Rules.

Rapido commends the Government of Karnataka for its commitment to taking all necessary measures to safeguard the livelihoods of lakhs of gig workers in the state. The company believes that a collaborative effort between the government and industry stakeholders can lead to the development of a robust regulatory framework that addresses the unique dynamics of the ride-hailing sector.

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