MHA asks states to ban web-based taxi services

New Delhi : Home Minister Rajnath Singh Tuesday said he has asked state governments and union territories to ban all web-based radio taxis following one such taxi’s driver raping a woman passenger in the cab in Delhi.

Rajnath Singh’s announcement came as opposition leader Anand Sharma pointed out that there is a conflict in the government as Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has spoken against the ban on Uber taxi services.

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Rajnath Singh also said that Delhi Police are examining “legal liability of Uber taxi services” in the case.

“The ministry of home affairs has advised the state government and union territories to ensure that the operations of web-based taxi services are stopped and such service providers which are not licensed with the state governments or union territory administration are prohibited to operate till they get registered themselves with the administration,” Rajnath Singh said, making a statement in the upper house.

Congress leader Anand Sharma, however, questioned how Gadkari said shutting the services is not a solution.

“Government must clarify… your cabinet colleague has criticised the ban on Uber,” said Sharma, indicating towards Gadkari.

Gadkari, talking to reporters in parliament complex Tuesday, said banning Uber, an international taxi-booking service, does not make sense, and added that modern services like these should be encouraged and if there is some lacuna, it should be rectified.

“It doesn’t make sense to ban services. Tomorrow, if something happens on a bus, we can’t ban that. Similarly, if something of this sort happens on a plane, that too cannot be banned,” Gadkari told reporters here.

“Modern concepts like these are being implemented in countries like the UK, the US and others, and we too must encourage it,” the transport minister said on being asked whether these application-based services should be banned in the country.

Uber taxi services has been banned in Delhi after the 25-year-old woman, who hired a taxi though the service, was raped by the driver Friday night.

Rajnath Singh informed the house that the woman reported that while sitting in the taxi, she dozed off for a while and suddenly realised that the taxi was parked at an isolated place and the driver was trying to molest her in the back seat.

He said when the woman tried to raise an alarm, the driver threatened her of physical injury and sexually assaulted her. After committing the crime, the driver dropped her near her home around 1 a.m., threatening her again against disclosing the incident to anyone.

“The government of India strongly condemns the dastardly act. It will be ensured that all necessary steps are taken to bring the offenders to justice,” said the home minister.

Opposition members, meanwhile, asked the government what steps are being taken to ensure that all cars with radio taxi services are probed.

“Someone went to Uber with transport department certificate, and licence, what will they do? What is your mechanism? How are you going to ensure that all radio taxi services, which have thousands of cars, are probed? Create a data bank,” said Anand Sharma.

Giving out some steps being taken by the government to ensure safety of women, the home minister said the GPS system has been made mandatory for all taxis.

He also said that the number of CCTV cameras has been increased and the government has identified 255 isolated locations and increased the security there.

“Delhi has the highest conviction rate in the country. The national capital has maximum number of fast-track courts,” the home minister added.