Delhi HC refuses to entertain plea against Uber

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Friday refused to entertain a plea that accused global cab company Uber of doing business in India without being accountable to the country’s laws.

The plea, filed by former Bharatiya Janata Party ideologue K.N. Govindacharya, also alleged that Uber does not have a grievance officer, which is a legal mandate as per directions of the high court.

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A division bench of justices B.D. Ahmed and Siddharth Mridul asked the counsel appearing for Govindacharya to file a contempt plea against the government for not making it mandatory for web-based companies to appoint a grievance officer.

Advocate Virag Gupta withdrew the plea and said he would file the contempt petition against IT secretary.

A case of cheating and violating lawful orders was Tuesday lodged against Uber after one of its drivers was arrested for raping a 25-year-old woman.

Govindacharya filed the plea, saying the failure to adhere to local laws resulted in “collapse of policing” and sought legal action against the US-based taxi service provider.

During the hearing, Gupta told the court that the first crucial eight hours, after police were informed about the rape, were spent in locating Uber’s office, even as senior police officers were clueless about how to contact the company since there were no contact or office details on the company website.

“Police had to download the app, book a cab and ask him to take them to their registered office, which was operated from a hotel room in Gurgaon where no one was present,” the plea said.

“The only way to access data about the concerned cab was to get it from New York office,” it said.

The plea said more than 20 such taxi companies and thousands of other companies for various services were still operating and doing business in India without complying with various laws and court orders.

It said the high court Aug 23 last year ordered web-based companies to appoint a grievance officer to deal with complaints from any user or victim and display the details on their websites, but the central government failed to implement the same.

“The court passed various orders which have yet not been implemented by the government, thus Uber taxi service was able to perpetuate the illegal operations in India, which resulted in the tragic rape incident of a young MNC executive in Delhi,” it said.

“Uber, being intermediary, has never appointed a grievances officer as per above legal mandate and is doing huge business operations through 3,000 car drivers which reflects failure of collapse of governance in the country,” said Govindacharya, on whose plea the order for the appointment of a grievances officer was passed.

Quoting a statement by Mumbai Service Tax Commissioner S.K. Solanki that Uber has “not paid a single penny towards service tax”, the application said: “These companies are also liable to pay service tax in India since they are giving the services and receiving the payment through credit cards.”