Delhi govt considering cancellation of Uber’s permit to operate in Delhi

The Mathura man involved in Friday night’s incident had been driving without the mandatory police check.

Written by Sandeep Singh , MAYURA JANWALKAR , George Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: December 9, 2014 7:42 pm
Uber app. Uber app.

The Delhi government is considering cancelling Uber’s permission to operate in Delhi, and may issue a notice to inform citizens that the international cab-booking service is “unauthorised”.

The controversial San Fancisco-headquartered company, in one of whose vehicles a 27-year-old executive was allegedly beaten and raped on Friday night, has been struggling with regulatory and operational issues ever since it entered India a year ago.

Uber, which operates in over 200 cities across the world, putting passengers in touch with cab drivers through a smartphone App, is yet to comply fully with rules laid down by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

In Delhi, multiple sources said, Uber does not have a rent-a-cab service permit, only an All India Tourist Permit.

This means, Transport department officials said, that the service was not authorised to operate within a particular state. The Transport department issues 11 kinds of permits to commercial vehicles. An applicant for a rent-a-cab permit must, among other things, have adequate parking space, experience of the passenger transport business, and a fleet of at least 50 cabs, half of which should be air-conditioned.

“They (Uber) have tied up with some cabbies, who have decided to drive for them on their own. The company has been operating in an unauthorised way,” a senior official said. The official added the Delhi government would now scrutinise the permits of all private taxi services.

Unlike other radio or digital taxi companies in India, Uber, which operates through a mobile application (or App), does not have a call centre to interact with customers, and does not provide phone numbers that customers can call. It operates entirely in a virtual world except for the car and the driver, whom no one seems to know.

The only entry into this secretive and opaque operation seems to be through a feedback form, which can be of limited help in emergencies.

Uber has three employees in every city it operates in. A spokesperson for the company declined to provide the names, phone numbers or other details of these individuals. Physically, the closest spokesperson authorised to speak on Uber’s operations in India is based in Singapore.

When contacted in Singapore, the spokesperson, Karun Arya, Uber’s communications head for South Asia, said in an email that “every driver partner goes through an in-person interview/on boarding process, and all details are verified before they can become a driver partner”. The company did not say, however, whether it insists on a police verification of drivers.

On whether Uber had a call centre, the spokesperson said by email, “No call centre. But they (customers) can send in feedback/complaints on multiple channels — in-App after the ride, email (reply to their receipt), through our website, or Twitter.”

The Mathura man involved in Friday night’s incident had been driving without the mandatory police check, and the vehicle did not have the mandatory GPS system.

The much talked about Uber App lacks in security features. The only instrument tracking a cab is the phone that has the App, which can be simply switched off — and the App is dead as soon as the car enters a zone with patchy 3G network. The company’s servers are in the US.

“In the Meru App, when you click the option of ICE alert, two people close to you will get alerts about your location and details of the car. Names and numbers of these people are already fed into the sytsem while signing up. So your journey will be safe,” Sidhartha Pahwa, CEO of Meru Cabs, said.

On the regulatory front, RBI last week rejected Uber’s plea to extend the deadline for compliance by 45 days, an RBI official said. Under RBI’s two-step authentication process, companies need to doublecheck the identity of their online customers. Uber users’ credit cards were earlier automatically charged at the end of the journey, a cashless payment method that was stopped after RBI insisted on a two-step authentication process for all card transactions.

RBI had said in August said Uber’s method of payment was breaking rules, and given the firm until October 31 to add another layer of security. After Uber requested an extension, the deadline was pushed to November 30.

In a post on its blog on November 30, Uber said it had complied with the RBI’s August 22, 2014 circular requiring every credit card transaction made with an Indian credit card to include two-stage authentication.

However, it asked for another 45 days, saying, “We would welcome an additional 45-day extension from the RBI that would give the majority of our existing riders sufficient time to transition over to a new two step-compliant payment system.” This additional time would prevent consumers from being disadvantaged, and protect partner-drivers who rely on Uber’s riders as their sole source of income, the company said.

Uber said in the blog that it had complied with RBI’s circular requiring every credit card transaction made with an Indian credit card to include two-step authentication. “While we believe this requirement is unnecessary and burdensome, we have engaged in constructive discussions with the RBI and are committed to working with the Indian government to advance regulations that support innovation and job creation,” it said.

To use Uber, clients need to download the App on their mobile phones and create an account along with their credit card details. While calling a cab, the pick-up location and desired car type can be fed into the App, which connects the passenger with the nearest available cabbie.

In India, besides Delhi, Uber operates in Bangalore, Chennai, Jaipur, Kochi, Pune, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Mumbai.

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  1. A
    arya
    Jan 27, 2016 at 9:07 am
    fffhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    Reply
    1. A
      arya
      Jan 27, 2016 at 9:07 am
      good post
      Reply
      1. A
        Ashok Sharma
        Dec 8, 2014 at 4:09 am
        Cancellation is the easiest way to coverup the leniency of enforcement agencies. First catch hold the government authorities those have to make sure that to give clearance for such ventures.
        Reply
        1. T
          TheTruthAsIKnowIt
          Dec 7, 2014 at 11:25 pm
          These clowns in India rape so often they must be related to Bill Cobsy
          Reply
          1. R
            Reality bites
            Dec 7, 2014 at 11:08 pm
            When all are punished for the sins of the few it is communism.
            Reply
            1. F
              Farhad Tarapore
              Dec 8, 2014 at 5:14 am
              How is a police verification or background check going to help? There is no foolproof system I know of which can predict when a person with perfectly good credentials and background check score can turn into a predator. Perhaps a polygraph or Firo or other behavioural tests may provide some indication of a predatorial personality trait. But those are hard to conduct and harder to rely upon if one has to do business.I cannot think of any foolproof way to protect the penger from the malafide intentions of a driver other than total isolation. Divide the car into two parts. Shield the penger from the driver and the door locks should also operate in a way that only the penger can unlock them from the inside. Too hard to implement when driving one's own car I think.
              Reply
              1. R
                RAGH
                Dec 8, 2014 at 1:56 am
                Is the problem rape or Uber?! The authors seem to strongly believe that if police verification had been done of the driver, this incident wouldn't have happened. Is this really an Indian express article?
                Reply
                1. S
                  samir
                  Dec 8, 2014 at 7:40 am
                  Is it really a fault of Uber cab? Has someone one from Uber cab directed the cab driver to do the crime? The local taxi drivers do not charge the standard fare, so to maintain somewhat honesty to our society we usuall go for prepay services like the one provided by Uber which has network wit taxi owners/drivers. If the local taxi drivers were charging the right fare, no one would have gone the long way of booking taxi via apps. And again this is individual driver's fault added with the the weakness of our police and justice system which encourages an individual to do crime without fear of law. Are not we living in a lawless society where there is a big scope for taxi driver kind of service providers to do the crime.
                  Reply
                  1. K
                    Krishnan
                    Dec 8, 2014 at 7:14 am
                    That's great - lay all the blame on Uber. The government has nothing to do with this.While I am not taking sides with Uber, it must be noted that India has failed women for several decades now. Better policing and harsher jail sentences are required. Will this every happen?
                    Reply
                    1. K
                      kulaputra kulaputra
                      Dec 8, 2014 at 12:57 am
                      Do we really need investment in taxis from outside. For God's sake punish Uber so that others wake up. Without punishment law does not mean a thing
                      Reply
                      1. L
                        lucifer
                        Dec 8, 2014 at 6:52 am
                        Hey Moron ! Employers are responsible for background verification which requires investment! By not outsourcing it to third party agencies but by following rules which are the law of the land.The fact is existing companies wants to mint money in India but will not invest money back in the indian economy and will nor follow the law of the land and when caught will cry foul.Anyone who doesn't comply with local laws can do their business out of here. Hypocrites wants to have the cake and eat it as well!
                        Reply
                        1. M
                          M Vyas
                          Dec 8, 2014 at 7:24 am
                          Incompetent Home Minister earlier Chidambaram when Nirbhaya rape took place now Mr. Rajnath equally incompetent could not do anything in last 7 month for women security. Priority of Rajnath is something else..visit places where CRPF and our brave soldiers killed mercilessly and simply pay homage and burry the issue. Yet another HM withot vision.
                          Reply
                          1. M
                            M Vyas
                            Dec 8, 2014 at 7:19 am
                            Put LG Mr. Najib in to jai for 30 days and DGP for 6 months for administrative negligence. Delhi will be safer than this time. Also dismiss all AGP, SP and Constables of entire area where the incidence took place. Otherwise no change will take place. Wisely they will try and put all blame on Uber- a service provider.
                            Reply
                            1. N
                              nil
                              Dec 8, 2014 at 12:48 pm
                              This was Ubers responsibility to cross check employee criminal / past record & track vehicle movement on GPRS. What value addition n safety norms UBER follows ????Why one should hire UBER if they are so irresponsible ????
                              Reply
                              1. P
                                prakash
                                Dec 8, 2014 at 5:46 am
                                They have come to earn money. Let Indians go to . Banning them is a welcome step.
                                Reply
                                1. P
                                  Pranab Salian
                                  Dec 9, 2014 at 4:57 am
                                  Mayura, Sandeep and George - I had posted a comment bringing out various facts and report inaccuracies in your reporting of this case. Why is the comment not published yet?
                                  Reply
                                  1. P
                                    Pranab Salian
                                    Dec 8, 2014 at 9:42 am
                                    Poorly researched article despite having three writers!1) Uber is not a radio taxi service and does not need "authorisation" under current rules.2) Uber rightly does not have a "rent a cab" or even an "all india" permit because it doesn't need one. 3) Uber does not own or rent any cabs, or employ any drivers.Uber is an innovative model that lets people search for and brings together available cabs and pengers - somewhat like a Google. It is a tradeoff where people get access to unutilized transport capacity at lower costs, in exchange one loses the tight control over service quality that a radio cab service like Meru brings.Uber is entirely legal, and while it should definitely take more precautions to screen drivers, it is not actually obligated to do so under any law as this is a new area where the law is yet to catch up.Just as it is unreasonable to blame Google if you found a plumber online via it and he committed a crime in your house, it is unreasonable to blame Uber in the current case. In fact, the driver is operating as an independent entrepreneur or typically under an owner who owns multiple cabs, and they are fully responsible for their actions. The driver is supposed to take care of the licence and own their permit.This is an interesting case of enterprise pushing the boundaries of current law. The law needs to catch up, but the current action of banning Uber is bad in law.
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                                    1. P
                                      Purush
                                      Dec 8, 2014 at 3:17 am
                                      This is the common problem with many web sites. In their desire to keep the voice interaction out of the equatioin, these people very often do not have contact numbers or even contact address or contact emails out of the website. There has to be a norm for every business website. The contact details should be prominent and must include physical address, phone number and contact email.
                                      Reply
                                      1. S
                                        shivani
                                        Dec 8, 2014 at 3:23 am
                                        "UBER DOES NOT GUARANTEE THE SUITABILITY, SAFETY OR ABILITY OF THIRD PARTY PROVIDERS. IT IS SOLELY YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO DETERMINE IF A THIRD PARTY PROVIDER WILL MEET YOUR NEEDS AND EXPECTATIONS. "If this is the term UBER is imposing on we travelers, why the UBER has taken responsibility of taking payments, penalty for cancellation, etc. If suppose a taxi arrive, and the traveler is not interested in to use the taxi which arrive, wont UBER charges a cancellation amount. UBER says they are not operating the taxi but they are only providing technology to connect Driver and the customer. Then why the hefty 15 - 20% charges of each use are being taken by UBER. If they are charging the amount they must take the responsibility of safety of the customer.Moreover UBER has never and never intented to disclose its whereabouts, no customer care number or service available (though they charge commissions from the customers).
                                        Reply
                                        1. R
                                          Ravi Mantha
                                          Dec 8, 2014 at 12:09 am
                                          Uber's main crime is being a foreign company trying to shake up the Indian taxi cartels. In India, we prefer to keep the status quo, and the consumer is seen as someone to be mercilessly fleeced. Many crimes happen daily in autorickshaws and private taxis in this country, but when it happens with a reble company(with the perpetrator identified and caught in 24 hours precisely because Uber had all his details) the media and the public (most of whom have never used Uber) are ready to agitate to ban it. Uber, and its numerous Indian compeors are a boon to consumers. Unfortunately, this makes them a soft target.
                                          Reply
                                          1. S
                                            sacchadesi
                                            Dec 8, 2014 at 3:46 am
                                            Good governance.
                                            Reply
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