The Uber rape case has led to the banning of all the unregistered internet based Taxi services. This was done to force these firms to adhere to the safeguards recommended by the Government and to carry out strict background checks on their drivers. Many people have opined that this step taken by the Home ministry is unnecessary and extreme act .Why blame the businesses while the real blame lies with the police and the government, they claimed.
But one thing that the Uber rape case has revealed is the lax attitude of these businesses towards the safety of their clients. For a taxi service that was high in demand among the women of Delhi, due to its perceived safety standards, employing a driver with previous rape charges without doing proper background checks amounts to criminal negligence. In that case, a mere conditional ban is not enough but a criminal proceeding has to be started against Uber. The government should SUE them.
It is not the first time that Uber is facing trouble due to their negligence and lack of concern for the safety of their clients. A Uber driver has been charged with assaulting a 35 year old man in San Francisco. The Driver attacked the Passenger with a hammer and the victim can lose one of his eyes. Uber has also been blamed by various governmental and regulating bodies throughout the world for not adhering to strict background checks on their drivers and governmental regulations. In the US the Los Angeles and San Francisco state attorneys have filed lawsuits against Uber ‘for making false and misleading statements to consumers.’
Similarly Uber has been ordered to stop their services in Spain and Thailand. In a bid to capture market and offer cheap rates, Uber has launched the Uberpop service in Netherlands. According to the UberPOP service, any private person with a car can offer services to the clients on behalf of Uber. These persons are not required to have permits or licences to offer paid car services. This is a serious disregard of the country’s regulations and thus the UberPOP services in Netherlands were banned. Uber is also facing similar rulings against its services in Germany and Italy. Uber has time and again showed blatant disregard for Governmental regulations around the world.
Uber is not a small company; It is valued at $41 billion. They have deep pockets and can easily install or incorporate efficient safeguard systems. But in a bid to capture markets aggressively, Uber offers cheap unsafe services and thereby pays no heed to the safety of their clients and passengers. Uber has neither registered itself with the RTA nor taken enough measures to guarantee the safety of the passengers.
In India we have many cases where businesses in their greed to earn more profits have ignored the safety of the people and have cause great damage to life and property. The Union Carbide, which caused the world’s worst industrial disaster and the death of hundreds of innocent people of Bhopal, is a perfect example. The people of Delhi shouldn’t forget the Uphar Theatre tragedy where many people were burnt to death due to criminal negligence.
Deaths and other crimes due to negligence on part of big businesses has been a regular feature in India in the past and steps should be taken so that it doesn’t remain so in the future. The first step, in this regard, should be criminal proceedings against the businesses or anybody who is responsible for criminal negligence and abetment of criminal acts. The action starts by suing them and taking them to the courts. Accountability and responsibility shouldn’t be something only associated with the Government.
The Uber Company has to take the blame for creating the situation in which a man with a criminal past found himself with an unsuspecting woman in a car. The statement from the CEO of Uber offered mere lip service to show their false concern for the victim and passed the buck on to the Government. Through the arrogant statement, Uber refused to take the blame and blamed the Government for the whole thing.
It was their responsibility to register themselves with the RTA and to carry out strict and thorough background checks of their drivers. Uber even failed to verify the mobile no and permanent address of the accused driver. The driver had no commercial badge required for driving Taxis in Delhi. The gross negligence on the part of Uber is unpardonable and is tantamount to abetment of rape.
It was after all Uber that guided the sheep into the Wolf’s lair. They should be held accountable for what the woman had to go through at the hands of that Rapist.
By: Avinandan Choudhury