The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra government to explain the basis of government resolution (GR) fixing Rs 18 and Rs 14 as new minimum fares for taxis and autos respectively in 2012.
The minimum fares were subsequently hiked to Rs 19 and Rs 15 following the strikes called by taxi and auto unions.
The division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and A S Chandurkar was hearing a public interest litigation filed by consumer rights body Mumbai Grahak Panchayat challenging constitution of M A Hakim Committee on fare hike, as well as the recent hike of Rs 2 in minimum fares.
Justice Oka asked the government how it arrived at Rs 18 and Rs 14 as minimum fares, as committee had recommended another fare structure. Advocate general Darius Khambata said he needed to take instructions and will an file affidavit by August 4.
Advocate Uday Warunjikar, petitioner MGP's lawyer, said it had challenged formation of one-man Hakim committee and government's acceptance of its recommendation on hike.
On June 20 this year, the state decided to hike minimum fare from Rs 15 to Rs 17 for autos and from Rs 19 to Rs 21 for taxis. It then moved the High Court for its approval, as the hike was to come into force from July 10. The government's case is that hike is due as the last one came two years ago.
Advocate Warunjikar argued that in 2012, the committee had proposed minimum fares of Rs 19 and Rs 15, but the GR announced fares of Rs 18 and Rs 14. Following this, taxi and auto unions again went on strike, so government hiked both minimum fares by Rs 1. But no revised government resolution was issued, Warunjikar said.
The next hearing would be on August 4. Following a PIL by Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, the HC had stayed the fare hike in 2012; therefore the government cannot implement the recent hike without the court's permission.