After a stalemate lasting almost six months, the Delhi government has rejected the licence applications of taxi aggregators Uber, Ola and TaxiForSure.
This comes in the backdrop of a 22-year-old professional dancer alleging a driver on Uber’s network tried to sexually assault her on Saturday. The official reason for the rejection is failure to give the affidavit stating the companies were abiding by the ban orders earlier issued against them.
Gagan Bhatia, city general manager of Uber, said in an e-mailed statement, “While the rejection of our application for a licence under the amended radio taxi scheme is unfortunate, we look forward to file a fresh application under a new set of guidelines that are due to be issued by the (Union) ministry of road transport and highways under Section 93 of the Motor Vehicles Act. We applaud the leadership of the central government in creating forward-looking, sector-specific regulations that put the safety of the passengers at the fore while recognising new and innovative business models.”
Bhatia added the company welcomed the opportunity to engage in “constructive dialogue with the Delhi government to seek necessary permission once the guidelines are issued and deliver more choices to millions of Delhi citizens to get around their city, while giving tens of thousands of our driver partners more economic opportunity.”
When contacted, Ola Co-founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal refused to comment.
According to a report by ANI news agency, city police chief B S Bassi assured action to enforce the ban. “Whatever action is required, we will definitely take. We have impounded a number of such taxis and we have also taken action under the Motor Vehicles Act. Whatever else is required, we will be doing,” said Bassi.
The city government has also already asked the central government to block customer access to the mobile applications of these firms. “The orders have been out since the past 10 days. Now, the enforcement has to be seen,” said a Delhi government official.
The authorities were insisting these companies state on affidavit that they complied with the ban orders issued in December last year, as a prerequisite for their pending licence applications to be cleared. The directive had landed the companies in a Catch-22 situation, where they could invite legal trouble if they gave the affidavit and if they didn’t, their licence applications would not be cleared, making their operations illegal. The companies had hit a dead end with the authorities after this demand, which culminated in their applications getting finally rejected on Wednesday.
City government officials had argued the companies should have waited for actual licences to be given out before re-starting operations that defied the ban. However, the companies said mere filing of their applications was good enough for them to restart. The initial ban orders came after a 27-year-old finance executive was raped by a driver on Uber’s network in December last year.