The government on Tuesday asked all states and Union territories to stop operations of web-based cab-booking services but appeared to be talking in two voices about the proposed ban with ministers differing over the way such companies should be regulated.
While home minister Rajnath Singh told the Rajya Sabha that his ministry had “advised state governments to ensure operations of web-based taxi services are stopped”, his colleague and road transport minister Nitin Gadkari said such a ban didn’t make sense.
Singh's statement comes a day after the Delhi government banned all unregistered internet taxi services, including Uber, Ola, TaxiForSure and TaxiPixi, for not following existing transport department regulations.
According to the home ministry, service providers which are not licensed with the state government and UT administrations are prohibited to operate till they get registered.
But, Gadkari told reporters outside Parliament, “Tomorrow, if something happens on a train or a bus, we can’t ban that. Similarly, if something of this sort happens on a plane, that too cannot be banned,”
The minister added modern concepts like these were being implemented worldwide, in countries like the UK and US. “Banning is not a solution. We should look at ways to effectively regulate it,” Gadkari said.
Speaking in a suo-moto statement in the Upper House, Singh had said the government would take all steps to ensure the safety of women and children but clarified the Centre wanted to regulate operations of cab-booking companies and not ban them.
“The government strongly condemns this dastardly act. All necessary steps are being taken to bring the offender to justice,” Singh said.
In spite of the government advisory, Uber cabs continued to ply in most metro cities on Tuesday. In Mumbai and Kolkata, the service was available and the smartphone app active. In Bengaluru, cabs on the web-based app were unavailable though no clear ban was announced in the southern city.
Uber’s smartphone app also continued to remain active and cabs available for hire in Delhi, more than 24 hours after the US-based firm was banned in the Capital following the rape of a 25-year-old woman Friday night.
Uber, meanwhile, was booked by the Delhi Police for allegedly misleading their passengers by claiming they do a background verification on their drivers.
An FIR under Section 420 (cheating) and 34 (common intention) was filed against the US-based company at the Sarai Rohilla police station, Madhur Verma, DCP (north), told Hindustan Times on Tuesday.
"Our investigation... revealed that no (driver) verification was being done by Uber in India. This means they were circulating wrong information to people here who were using their services. This violation certainly attracts a cheating case against them," said a police officer.
(with HTC inputs from Bengaluru, Mumbai and Kolkata)