A Delhi court sent on Monday an Uber taxi driver accused of raping a 25-year-old executive to police custody for three days as the state government banned the taxi booking service which came under fire for hiring the driver without background checks.
Police said Shiv Kumar Yadav, 32 had earlier spent nearly two years in jail from 2011 over another rape charge before being acquitted last year when the victim allegedly turned hostile and the court found contradictions in her statement.
On Friday night, Yadav allegedly raped an executive from a Gurgaon-based finance company in north Delhi’s Sarai Rohilla before dropping her home, sparking outrage in the city weeks before the second anniversary of the fatal gangrape of a 23-year-old medical student in a moving bus.
Although the driver threatened to kill her if she reported the crime to police, the woman took a photo of the car’s number plate before alerting the authorities.
Police tracked Yadav down and arrested him on Sunday from his home town Mathura,160 kilometers (100 miles) south of New Delhi, where he had fled.
Meanwhile, Uber faced criticism for hiring the cab driver without the mandatory police verification. It initially could not produce the call records of the accused as the server was located in the US.
“Keeping in view the violation and the horrific crime committed by the driver, the transport department has banned all activities relating to providing any transport service by the www.Uber.com with immediate effect,” said a statement by the transport department.
“The transport department has also blacklisted the company from providing any transport service in the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi in future.”
The department also alleged Uber had flouted transport rules and “misled” the passenger with its app.
“M/s Uber also misled the commuter about the nature of the taxi service offered by the “Uber App,” it said.
Special commissioner Deepak Mishra said early investigations showed GPS had not been installed in the taxi and police background checks were not conducted on the driver.
San Francisco-based Uber had earlier issued a statement saying its thoughts were with the young woman and it was working with the government to address the issue.
The criticism of Uber comes at a time when the company has faced critical news coverage over its driver screening in the United States and could spell trouble across the globe for the company.
Anger mounted in New Delhi where a crowd of angry protesters rallied outside the home minister’s residence, demanding more action by officials to ensure safety for women.
“The shocking incident of rape of a young woman in a cab on Friday night exposes the alarming situation about lack of women safety in the national capital,” the Aam Aadmi Party said in a statement.
Uber on back foot
Uber tried to shift some of the blame on to the Delhi government for the failure to do background checks on the accused cab driver.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick issued a statement following, terming the incident horrific.
“What happened over the weekend in New Delhi is horrific. Our entire team’s hearts go out to the victim of this despicable crime. We will do everything, I repeat, everything to help bring this perpetrator to justice and to support the victim and her family in her recovery.
“We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs. We will also partner closely with the groups who are leading the way on women’s safety here in New Delhi and around the country and invest in technology advances to help make New Delhi a safer city for women,” the statement said.
A day after police served a notice on the firm, Madhur Verma, deputy commissioner of Delhi Police (North), said, “Every violation by Uber will be evaluated and we’ll go for legal recourse. The police would take legal advice before opting to press a criminal or civil case.
(With inputs from agencies)