Transport Department’s notice to close down illegal passenger Apps : Outcome of ‘Surajya Abhiyan’s drive

‘Surajya Abhiyan’ demands filing criminal cases and charging fines against passenger Apps which are looting millions of people

Mumbai – On 6th March 2024, the Regional Transport Office, Pune recommended the closure of 18 private passenger Apps including MakeMyTrip; RedBus; Goibibo; Sawari; InDrive; Rapido; Quick Ride, etc. having aggregator Apps (Aggregator Apps are Digital Technology. A web-based or installed application that aggregates related, frequently updated content from various internet sources and consolidates it in one place for viewing) to the State Government. Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS)’s ‘Surajya Abhiyan’ has been following up on the matter for the last four years by staging demonstrations and lodging complaints with the State Government; demanding action against these passenger Apps and travel companies which are looting travellers. As the outcome of the continuous follow-up, RTO has now suggested only the closure of these Apps. The action taken in this manner against the illegal aggregator Apps is not adequate. Mr Abhishek Murkute, the Coordinator of ‘Surajya Abhiyan’ of HJS has demanded that the Union and State Governments should undertake a special audit of these companies to find out the level of their looting people, these companies should be enormously fined, and criminal cases should be filed against them.

Demand for in-depth inquiry through CBI and ED

Under clause 93 (1) of the ‘Motor Vehicle Act, 1988’, it is required to obtain a licence from the legitimate authorities for carrying out the passenger transport business within the framework of the guidelines issued by the Union Government. Still, this business is carried on for years by violating the law. Pune District RTO has written a letter to the Transport Commissioner and State Cyber Cell’s Special Director General of Police, recommending the closure of 18 Apps. These 18 aggregator Apps not only cheated the people of Maharashtra but cheated people across the country; therefore, stringent action is required against them and an in-depth inquiry needs to be conducted through the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) about the money illegally collected by them so far, who are the other people involved in this scam and whether it is as huge as ‘Mahadev’ scam, demanded Mr Murkute.

Action was taken against the Taxi Aggregator App; but what about action against online bus ticket booking Apps ?

The action has been taken only against the taxi aggregator App. It has been exposed that the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC)’s RedBus and two other online Apps have cheated people; therefore, MSRTC has cancelled the contract with them. As per a verdict passed by Mumbai High Court in 2018, permission is granted to the online booking companies to charge only 1-1/2 times more fare than the fare charged by MSRTC. The ticket booking Apps and private travel companies are, however, charging additional fares than the permitted amount and looted the passengers for five years. When will action be taken against the online bus ticket booking companies ? Under ‘Surajya Abhiyan’, meetings were held with 16 Regional and sub-regional Transport Officers to stop exploitation of passengers and complaints were lodged. Proofs were submitted to the Transport Commissioner. Agitations were staged constantly and complaints were lodged to stop the illegal hike in fares, especially during religious festivals and summer holidays. Mr Murkute informed that other than the State Home Minister and Chief Minister, even the Prime Minister, the Union Tourism Minister, and the Union Transport Minister have been once again approached demanding action against these companies.