NEW DELHI: The Centre's decision to stop the private taxi service by Uber across the country on Tuesday evoked mixed reactions from political parties.
While a section, including Union road transport and shipping minister Nitin Gadkari was not in favour of stopping the services of Uber, few MPs favoured action against the taxi service provider.
"New developments are taking place in the transport system through electronics. Banning the railways for train accidents, bus for bus accidents and taxis is not correct," Gadkari said outside Parliament here.
Congress MPs Rajeev Shukla and Abhishek Manu Singhvi also said that banning the taxi services would not help unless a system and policy was in place.
Singhvi slammed Delhi Police and the government over the lapses.
"I partly agree and I am speaking for myself. By banning the taxi service, neither the police nor the home ministry can hide their negligence. God and devil lies in the details. Don't make ban a substitute to hide your own negligence.
"The crucial issue is that the kind of divisive politics BJP had played during 2013 (after the Nirbhaya rape episode), it is now coming back to haunt it. These are matters where we need to show consensus and rise above party politics, but BJP has always acted on petty political consensus," Singhvi said.
Former Union minister Rajiv Shukla termed the government's decision to ban the services of Uber as "hasty".
"One has to find to what mistake has the company made? If the company has made any mistake then action must be taken against it. If the individual is at fault then taken action against the company would send a wrong message to the people," Shukla said.
Union minister for minority affairs Najma Heptullah said if the radio cabs charges more, then it is their duty to provide a secured ride.
"Special taxis (radio cabs) charge more. What information did it have about the driver? Did it have GPS? Are they giving special services? The question here is when they charge more, they are committed to provide a secured ride," Heptullah said.
Home minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday told Rajya Sabha that the Centre has asked all states and Union Territories to ensure stoppage of taxi services of Uber.
Congress MP Renuka Chowdhury slammed Gadkari for his stand on banning public modes of transport and said Gadkari should have instead focused on how to provide security to women, as a representative of the government.
"Instead of making such comments, the government should take corrective steps. The minister should first apologise for the comments he has made. It is the duty of the minister to fix responsibility.
"This cab taxi service also had some issues in the US, where it operates," Chowdhury said.
Former Union home secretary R K Singh favoured the Centre's move, saying the company had not done its due diligence.
"The ban is justified because of the careless behaviour of the radio taxi service provider. After the Nirbhaya incident, it was decided that verification of all public transport drivers was made mandatory," he said.
On Monday, Delhi government banned all operations by private cab service Uber with immediate effect and blacklisted it from providing any transport service in the national capital in the wake of the alleged rape incident in a taxi plying for it.
States, UTs to ensure stoppage of web-based taxi services: Govt
Condemning the rape of a young executive in a cab in the national capital, home minister Rajnath Singh said in a suo motu statement in Rajya Sabha, "The ministry of home affairs has advised the state governments/UT administrations to ensure that the operations of the web-based taxi services are stopped."
Promising to initiate all steps to ensure safety and security of women and children in the country, Singh said the Centre has advised states to prohibit such service providers which are not licensees with them. He, however, made it clear that the government was not in favour of banning taxi services but wanted to regulate their operations.
"I want to say that our intentions should not be questioned in this regard," he said.
"The government of India strongly condemns this dastardly act. It will be ensured that all necessary steps are taken to bring the offender to justice," he said.
Singh said the Delhi Police is also exploring the issue of possible legal liability of the taxi service Uber in the crime committed and the transport department has already banned it. Terming the incident as a "national shame," he said as a home minister, the case has further "pained" him.
He said that the accused, who was earlier was apprehended on charges of rape and was subsequently acquitted after a year, had managed to procure a "fake" character certificate.
Don't ban Uber. Work with them to make transport safer. And fix corrupt police and RTO that either harasses or wants bribes for verification— Chetan Bhagat (@chetan_bhagat) December 8, 2014
On concerns of members that isolated places were hardly manned, the home minister said a vigil is being done at 255 sensitive identified locations/roads in the Capital. "To ensure security in such places I will call a meeting of top officials soon," he said.
Enunciating steps to ensure women's safety in the capital, Singh said, "CCTV cameras have been installed in 200 buses and 3,707 CCTV cameras in public places, while 1,518 more are planned. "We will ensure that PCR vans initiate actions soon after any complaint," he said, adding that the strength of PCR vans would be raised to 1,000 soon.
He said till November this year, 25,000 rape cases have been registered across the country. The conviction rate in Delhi has, however, been higher than the national average at 36 per cent. He said there is no shortage of law but their proper implementation is the need of the hour if such incidents have to be checked.
As soon as the information of the latest rape incident reached the police, a case was registered on December 6 under various sections of the IPC. "Immediately police teams were formed to identify and locate the culprit. The woman was sent for medical examination and she was also counselled by an NGO volunteer authorised by Delhi Commission for women," he said.
Singh said that following the clues, the driver was zeroed down as "one person from Mathura, owner of the vehicle Swift Desire no DL -IYD 7910. He has this vehicle registered with Uber cab service. "The vehicle used in the crime has been found and brought to Delhi where it will be subjected to through forensic examination," he said.
He said the woman reported that while sitting the taxi, she dozed off for a while and then suddenly realised that the taxi was parked at an isolated place and the driver was trying to molest her on the back seat. She tried to raise an alarm but the driver threatened her of physical injury and then she was sexually assaulted in the car. After committing the crime, the driver dropped her at her home at around 1 am and threatened her again not to disclose the incident to anyone.
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Help the police to build capacity to effectively combat crimes incldg monitor taxis. Why ban Uber when others don't do better at compliance?— Madhu Kishwar (@madhukishwar) December 9, 2014