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Taking a serious view of incidents of violence against vehicles and drivers of app-based cab companies Ola and Uber, Delhi High Court on Friday directed the Delhi Police to immediately ensure their safety.
"You cannot demand anything from plaintiffs except by peaceful commercial negotiations," the court said, telling the two drivers' unions to change their mindset.
"Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) or any other officer of equal rank nominated by Commissioner of Police is requested to forthwith ensure that drivers/owners having contract with plaintiffs (Ola and Uber) and wanting to ply are not stopped or blocked from plying and that their vehicles are not damaged," Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said.
The direction came after Ola and Uber contended that despite the court's orders earlier this week restraining the two drivers' unions from blocking or interfering with their services, there have been incidents of violence including burning of a cab.
The two unions -- Sarvodaya Driver Association of Delhi (SDAD) and Rajdhani Tourist Drivers' Union -- denied responsibility for such incidents of violence.
While SDAD said it has been agitating peacefully with permission, Rajdhani contended that it was only operating tourist cabs and it was SDAD which was involved in the incidents of violence.
The court, however, noted in its order that "if not by the defendants (SDAD and Rajdhani), then the incidents are happening at behest of the defendants as no one else would be interested in indulging therein".
It said if such incidents continue the defendants only would stand to lose as people would adopt other means of transport and will no longer have faith in them.
The court said that if the unions were unhappy with the rates fixed by Ola and Uber, then they have other options, like running as black and yellow taxis, open to them.
It said the unions have to "get it out of their head" that they can "extract" something from these companies by agitations as they do with the government because these business modules will then go away from here and move to "better cities" where they can operate.
The court asked the unions to spread the word that such incidents of violence should not happen so that a peaceful atmosphere is created for a meeting with Ola and Uber.
"You cannot demand anything from plaintiffs except by peaceful commercial negotiations," the court said and listed the matter for further hearing on February 28.
During the hearing, Ola and Uber said they have made several efforts for dialogue, but they cannot have meetings while these incidents of violence and "hooliganism" are occurring.
The court was hearing the pleas of Uber and Ola seeking
to restrain SDAD and Rajdhani and anyone working on their behalf from disrupting their services.
The pleas were moved after hundreds of drivers of Uber and Ola went on an indefinite strike from February 10 in Delhi-NCR region to protest against the "low fares" and "lack" of basic amenities.
On a plea by Ola and Uber, the court had issued directions restraining anyone, including the two unions and their members, from blocking vehicles or removing or confiscating the mobile devices installed in the cabs.
The court had also restrained the two unions, their office-bearers or anyone acting on their behalf, from staging a dharna within 500 metres of the offices here of Ola and Uber.