US-based cab company Uber was today booked for cheating by the Delhi Police in connection with the alleged rape of a 27-year-old finance company executive in its cab by the driver on Friday night here. Also Read - Uber cab service resumed in 31 cities in India with new Lockdown 4.0 guidelines
“We have registered a separate FIR against Uber under Section 420 (cheating) of IPC. In inveatigations so far, it emerged that the company cheated their customer on the pretext of providing safe commuting with duly verfied driver,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Madhur Verma told PTI. Also Read - Uber launches 'Uber Connect' package delivery service to rival Dunzo and Swiggy Genie
Earlier in the day, a senior Delhi Police official said “we may book the company under CrPc section 188 and other charges as criminal negligence and abetment to the crime have been made out against Uber”. Also Read - Uber to operate 'Essential' cab service to hospitals and pharmacy stores in 4 cities
The investigations have gathered momentum amid growing outrage over the rape allegedly by a driver of Uber who had been arrested yesterday.
“We wanted to know the role of the company while it brings the customer and the car driver into contact through its App. What is the liability of the company if the driver commits a crime as in this case? What is the business model, how it works, who are its promoters?” the officer said.
Sources privy to the investigation said Uber’s General Manager (Marketing) Gagan Bhatia, who claims to be the in-charge of the company’s India operations, during his day-long questioning, has not been able to provide much information to the police regarding the company’s operations and its policies.
Bhatia could not come up with satisfactory answers to these questions posed by police and he has been asked to produce the documents regarding the operations of the company in India.
“He first told us that there is no country head and he reports to one guy who heads its operation at EMEA (Europe-Middle East-Asia). If we don’t get satisfactory answers from Bhatia, we may call this EMEA head for questioning,” the officer added.
He added that they have come across gross violations on part of the company in terms of violation of the Motor Vehicle Act and others.
Bhatia, who reached the office of DCP North’s office at Civil Lines with two lawyers in the afternoon, was questioned by a team led by Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Brijendra Kumar Yadav.
Later, in the evening Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi also pointed out that there were “certain gaps in the system” and said that the company “had certain responsibility” in the case.
In Delhi, black and yellow taxi and radio taxi operate.
Radio Taxi, were introduced in 2006. Six cab service providers like Meru and Easycab are working under certain conditions laid down under the Radio Taxi Policy of 2006, he said.
“With the expansion of Internet, certain virtual platforms have come up, Uber was one of them. They had been working without any permission from the transport authorities and there are certain gaps in the system.
“They had been bringing the two together, one the taxi operator as well as the customer through a virtual platform.
So, yes they had certain responsibilities, because when you are bringing the two together, you are ensuring the customer of certain quality, which was not there,” said Bassi.
Some of the gross violations under the MV Act included that the cab had an All India tourist permit but was running as a Radio Taxi in Delhi.
As per the norms set for a vehicle having All India Tourist Permit, “Tourist Vehicle” should have been painted on the car on both sides within a diameter of 25 cm and a board with “All India Tourist Permit” written in black letters should have been above the yellow registration number plate in the front of the car.
Meanwhile, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said that police should lodge an immediate FIR against the company and cancel its licence.
“I met the Police Commissioner today. We have demanded that immediate FIR should be filed against the company and their license should be cancelled.
“The police commissioner had given us categorical assurance that they under the appropriate clauses would file an FIR. We are waiting to see whether it is filed or not before we decide on our future course of action,” Karat said.
AIDWA activists held a demonstration in front of the Police Commissioner’s office and later met him with their demands.
She said that the government just cannot get away by taking them (company) off the road.
“Who is accountable for allowing a company to come into India without the necessary due diligence? Who is accountable for it? How come these foreign companies are allowed here with only virtual offices? We have demanded a entire re-look at this,” Karat said.