The New Delhi city government bans Uber after one of its cab drivers is accused of raping a 25-year-old female passenger
The Transport Department has banned all activities relating to providing any transport service by Uber with immediate effect, after one of its drivers appeared in court on suspicion of sexually assaulting a passenger in the Indian capital over the weekend.
The alleged victim, a finance company executive, told police she dozed off in the taxi as she was returning home from dinner with friends on Friday night.
She woke to find the cab parked in a secluded place where she was assaulted and raped, before she was dumped near her home in northern New Delhi.
The woman, who took a photo of the vehicle’s number plate, said the driver threatened to kill her if she reported the attack.
Police arrested the suspect, Shiv Kumar Yadav, in his home town in the state of Uttar Pradesh, with Madhur Verma, the deputy commissioner of Delhi police, telling Rueter: “The prime accused in the case has been arrested.”
It has since emerged that the 32-year-old driver was arrested for a sexual assault three years ago. Indian police have said they are considering action against Uber for failing to run a background check.
The attack is a blow to the online taxi service’s reputation in India, where women are extremely safety-conscious after a string of rapes that sparked global outrage.
Indian news media reported that the driver, 32-year-old Shiv Kumar Yadav, spent seven months in jail in 2011 on rape charges before being acquitted after investigators found discrepancies in the victim’s story. In both instances, Yadav was accused of driving a female passenger to a secluded area, climbing into the backseat and forcing himself upon her.
Yadav appeared in court in New Delhi on Monday and was ordered into police custody for three days for questioning,
The Delhi state government said Uber, the San Francisco “tech company” did not have the required permits to operate taxis in the capital region and accused it of “misleading” customers. Police confirmed Uber failed to conduct an adequate background check on Yadav and that his car did not have a GPS tracking system installed, as required by law.
Uber spokeswoman, Evelyn Tay, said earlier in a statement: “We are working with police to solve the latest terrible crime, and can confirm Yadav licence has been suspended. Our thoughts are with the victim of this terrible crime.
“Safety is Uber’s highest priority and in India we work with licensed driver-partners to provide a safe transportation option.”
Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick issued a statement Monday that sought to deflect some blame to the Delhi government: “We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs.”
Mr Verma said the company had been guilty of “a lot of negligence in terms of security. There is no GPS (global positioning system) installed in the vehicle and there was no background check or driver verification done with the police.”
However, whilst Delhi police try to deflect blame they too have come under fire after news media reported that authorities had signed a so-called character certificate for Yadav in May, around the time he began driving for Uber.
The certificate, seen by Indian news channels, said Yadav was not linked to any crime and made no mention of the 2011 rape charges. Delhi police commissioner B.S. Bassi reacted by claiming that the certificate being circulated online was fake.
Uber has been gaining popularity in India, especially among young, urban workers who use its smartphone app to hire and pay for rides. But the firm, founded in 2009 and now present in more than 200 cities throughout the world, has caused tensions with traditional taxi drivers, especially in Europe.