A wave of outrage swept across the Indian capital city of New Delhi after a woman in her mid-20s was raped by an Uber cab driver on Friday.
The accused cab driver, 32-year-old Shiv Kumar Yadav, was arrested on Sunday from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh.
— India Today (@IndiaToday) December 9, 2014
During the investigation, it was also revealed that Yadav, who has three children, was arrested in 2011 in a rape case with the same modus operandi in south Delhi and spent seven months in Tihar jail. Besides, the Uber taxi company had not given him any public service verification (badge) or an employer’s verification certificate.
Who is Uber?
Valued at $40 billion (the sense of which has been questioned), San Francisco-based Uber is a rideshare and taxi service provider with operations in 51 countries. The company has run into problems with taxi operators in many cities around the world where it operates.
The Ban in Delhi
On Monday, the Delhi government banned “all activities” by the Uber taxi company in the national capital. The city government’s transport department also blacklisted the company from providing any transport service in the national capital in future, an official statement said.
The government said that in response to “the unfortunate and heinous crime”, it had cancelled the taxi’s permit and registration certificate as well as the driver’s license. The statement accused Uber of misleading the rape victim about the nature of the taxi service offered by “Uber App”.
Uber was also faulted for violating the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 by providing the commuter for local journey a taxi with an all-India permit.
BBC reports that the company is still accepting bookings on its app and it is not yet clear how the ban will be enforced since Uber taxis do not carry any visible branding. The Delhi Police said on Tuesday that it will lodge a case against the global taxi service provider Uber.
“A case under appropriate sections will be filed against Uber, as it was found to have not followed the transport rules. We are taking a legal opinion,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Madhur Verma told IANS.
Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has, however, protested against the ban.
Doesn’t make sense to ban services, tmrw if something happens in bus cant ban that, system needs to be changed: Nitin Gadkari, Transport Min
— ANI (@ANI_news) December 9, 2014
But did you know?
An ‘international’ serial offender?
The problems Uber is facing in Delhi is not its first. According to the Wall Street Journal two of Uber’s services – standard UberPop and premium UberBlack – were banned by authorities in Berlin and Hamburg earlier this year because the company and its drivers lacked licenses mandatory for taxis.
The Time lists other places where Uber is facing protests and bans. They include Portland and state of Nevada in the US; the Netherlands; and Toronto. It appears that the taxi service provider has a history of violating rules and regulations established under the law of the land it is operating on.
It is facing or has faced regulatory opposition in Australian cities of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland; Belgium; Canada; Germany; Philippines; Poland; South Korea (where they voiced concern over Uber using unregistered private or rented vehicles); Taiwan; Thailand and the United Kingdom.
Uber has, in the past, used unethical business practices against rivals as was highlighted in a report published in The Verge.
Supports and protests
The ban on Uber in Delhi is receiving both flak and support from various quarters, a reflection of which can be seen on Twitter.
Uber has taken India for a ride. Period. We deserve it. Should Uber be banned? Hell, no! Fire the careless regulators first. — Shobhaa De (@DeShobhaa) December 9, 2014
Pulasta Dhar points out the insensitivity of Uber by highlighting the callousness it displayed in its reaction to the horrific incident.
Sriram Krishnan, writing in Fortune, defends Uber:
The idea of Uber doing background checks and “filtering out” this driver with an arrest record is laughable for anyone who has dealt with government records in India. First, there is no reliable way to run a check on someone in most parts of the world and second, even if they did, a small bribe in the right place will fix most records.