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The Supreme Court on Thursday said it would examine a plea to regulate app-based taxi service providers like Ola and Uber to make them accountable for offences committed by drivers of their vehicles.
The top court took note of the fact that the headquarters of most internet-based taxi providers are located in foreign countries and recently Uber was banned in London for refusing to subject to the jurisdiction of local laws.
"The issue of regulating public transport including internet-based taxi services will be taken up on December 7," a bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.
The bench's remark came after senior advocate Indira Jaising, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in a matter related to the implementation of victim compensation scheme for sexual offences and acid attacks and women security, said several incidents of crime committed by their drivers have been reported.
She said recently Uber was banned from plying in London as they had refused to subject themselves to the jurisdiction of the local courts.
"These companies who run the app-based tax services do not have company headquarters in India. Some companies have their headquarters in Norway or in other foreign countries. It is very difficult to hold them accountable for any crime committed by their drivers," Jaising said.
She said that several crimes committed by these drivers have come to notice in the recent past and it is necessary to have some regulatory framework for the companies running these services.
The senior advocate said as rape was committed in December 16 gangrape case, popularly called Nirbhaya case of 2012 in a public transport (bus), it is very necessary to have some regulations for even public transport.
The bench said it will hear the plea on December 7 and asked Jaising to submit data and other details in support of her plea by the next date of hearing.
The bench also asked the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) to draft a model framework for the release of funds under the Victim Compensation Scheme by December 31.
It also asked NALSA to set up a committee of about 4 or 5 persons to prepare model rules for victim compensation for sexual offences and acid attacks taking into account the suggestions from Jaising.
"The Chairperson or the nominee of the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women should be associated with the Committee. The report of the Committee be filed on or before December 31, 2017," the bench said.
The bench clarified that matters concerning regulating of public transport and app-based taxi providers and victim compensation scheme will be heard simultaneously and listed the matter on January 9, 2018.
The apex court observed that model rules so framed should have uniformity and not generalised on case-to-case basis.
Jaising also raised the question of victim protection and said directions could be issued as in many cases, the victim succumbs to the pressure of the accused and turns hostile.
She said the existing victim compensation scheme lacks clarity and there should be guidelines for media reporting on rape cases too.
Earlier this month, the central government had told the apex court that it was finding it difficult to get the cooperation of states on the issue relating to disbursal of compensation to the victims of sexual assault under the Nirbhaya fund.
The Nirbhaya Fund was announced by the Centre in 2013 after the sensational December 16, 2012, gangrape and murder case in Delhi to support the initiatives of the governments and the NGOs working towards the safety of women.
Jaising had then told the apex court that she had gone through 36 schemes related to compensation to be disbursed to victims of sexual assault under the Nirbhaya fund and has extracted the best practices which could be looked into by the bench.
The court had earlier observed that there was no clarity on how and at what stage compensation is to be paid to the victims of sexual assault. It had also noted the absence of an integrated system of disbursal and management of the money allocated for compensating the victims.
Jaising had earlier told the court that there was no uniformity in the disbursal of funds to the victims of sexual assault as in states like Goa, the amount was Rs 10 lakh while in some other states, it was only Rs one lakh.
Six petitions were filed in the Supreme Court after the gangrape case in Delhi on December 16, 2012, raising concerns over the safety and security of women. The petitions were tagged by the apex court and several directions were issued from time to time in this regard.