The Delhi Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities has issued an order recommending that cab aggregator Uber compensate a person with 80% locomotor disability after two cab drivers refused to ferry him and board his wheelchair, leading to him missing a flight.
In a first-of-its-kind order against a private cab aggregator, the commission observed that Uber was discriminatory against persons with disabilities.
On November 5, the commissioner issued a series of recommendations — including one to the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways — to “take the initiative to frame a policy to manufacture disabled friendly cars and vehicles…keeping in view the needs of persons with disabilities”.
The commissioner also recommended that Uber must have agreements with drivers to compensate for non-compliance.
In the latest case, disability rights activist Arman Ali, also Director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment of Persons with Disabilities, had booked an Uber in Chennai to go to the airport in June.
While the first driver cancelled the ride, the second driver reached him and refused to fit his wheelchair in the front or rear seat. The driver eventually cancelled the ride.
“My entire luggage had to be removed and the driver left me there. For a person with disability, it is agonising to be discriminated for basic services,” Ali told The Indian Express. He missed his flight and subsequent meetings in Bengaluru, and paid Rs 14,000 for a fresh ticket.
The commissioner issued a suo motu notice to Uber on June 24. It observed that Uber paid only Rs 45 compensation, as cancellation charge, to Ali and recommended that it offer compensation for the additional cost he incurred in booking another flight.
After missing two hearings, Joyjyoti Misra from Uber India Systems Pvt Ltd, in her response, submitted that it had issued a warning to the driver and sensitised him against discrimination.
She, however, added, “Uber does not have any actual on-ground control of driver partners, and the decision to accept and fulfil the travel-booking on the Uber app rests solely with the driver partners.”
In its order, the commissioner recommended that Uber train its drivers on disability rights policy, apart from drawing agreements of penalty if a driver violates the policy.
An Uber India spokesperson said the commissioner’s directions are a recommendation, and that the company has three months to respond to it.
Uber also said it is willing to hold sensitisation campaigns on disability, along with the Social Justice department, in India.