The Uber rape victim is “very upset” and “surprised” at the “audacity” of the cab-hailing company which copied her on an email it sent to its customers on Friday, saying it was “relaunching” operations in Delhi.
The 25-year-old woman’s American lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, who is assisting her in an effort to file a suit against Uber in a US court, told The Indian Express that the victim and her family “are very upset that they were sent an email from Uber, and that Uber has come back to Delhi without a consultation process with them”.
He said they were “surprised” that Uber had returned to Delhi so soon after the incident and had the “audacity” to send an email directly to the victim. Refusing to discuss details of his legal strategy, Wigdor said they were taking appropriate steps “in an attempt to ensure the safety of future Uber customers”.
“We had made it clear to Uber that the victim wanted to be part of a consultation process regarding safety procedures to ensure that no other person becomes a victim at the hands of an Uber driver. Most unfortunately, this has not happened and we have no confidence that the touted ‘India-specific safety measures’ will prevent another attack,” he explained.
A day after applying for a fresh licence under the modified rules of the 2006 Radio Taxi Scheme, Uber sent emails to its customers in Delhi, claiming, “We’re back, to serve you and get you moving once again.”
The US-based online service was barred from plying in the city days after one of its passengers was sexually assaulted by a driver last month. The decision was also notified via a public notice issued by the transport department on December 8. Responding to a petition filed by the operator, the Delhi High Court had refused to lift the ban.
On Thursday, however, Uber applied for a fresh licence, not under its own name but through an Indian subsidiary named Resource Experts India Private Limited. The company has even offered 25 per cent discount to passengers.
Sources in the transport department said the company could not resume services and it would be a violation of rules. “Applying for a licence does not mean it has been granted. Also, applying under the name of another subsidiary company would mean that when passengers book themselves on Uber, the company would not take responsibility in case of any untoward incident because the licence for operation (in case it is granted) would be in the name of another company,” said a source.
“Till we get an official confirmation that a valid licence has been granted to Uber to operate in Delhi, the service will be considered illegal and will not be allowed to operate,” said Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Muktesh Chander.
But when contacted, a senior Uber official said they were back “to serve the community”. “The other (unlicenced) taxi services that were banned together with Uber have been operating over the last six weeks. There is little enforcement in place to that effect. So, for now, we are back,” said the official.
“Yesterday we applied for a licence under the Radio Taxi Scheme to bring you more transportation options. We do not believe these regulations (strictly) apply to a technology platform such as Uber. We are hopeful that the Delhi government will follow the leadership shown by authorities in Bidhannagar, Kolkata, who have developed a new progressive framework that embraces innovation, supports consumer choice and ensures the safety of riders,” said Uber in its email sent to passengers.
“These past weeks have been sobering for everyone at Uber and also our partner-drivers, many of whom lost their primary source of income. Today, as we relaunch in New Delhi, our partner drivers are ready to serve you again and make each ride a 5-star worthy experience. We’re giving you a flat 25 per cent discount to welcome you back and get you moving again,” it said.