While cab drivers continue to commit crimes, the legality of web-based cab aggregators plying in the city is unclear. Transport authorities said the criminal record of these cab drivers could not be verified.
The government’s transport department said these web-based cab aggregators were plying illegally. A senior transport officer said one needed a permit to run transport services in the city. Ola last applied for permission in September 2015. The transport department rejected their application and since then Ola has not submitted another one. A spokesperson for Ola said, “We are law-abiding corporate citizens and all our operations are within the ambit of the law.”
Senior transport officers said a PSV badge tells you if the driver’s background has been checked. It is mandatory for the drivers of government commercial vehicles and taxis to have a PSV badge. However, the number of drivers in OLA with a PSV badge is unknown.
“Commercial drivers should have PSV badges that are provided by the transport authority. Having a PSV badge means that the driver can be trusted. His background has been checked by the police. A cab aggregator, such as Ola, lets drivers even without a PSV badge work for them. They have to submit their own police verification, which is just an eyewash,” said an officer.
A driver is given a PSV badge only after the local police visit his home, speak to neighbours, check his record and send verification forms to the driver’s permanent residence. On the other hand, in the police verification, drivers usually submit an ‘online police clearance’ that is available for `250 and a soft copy of photograph and a voter’s identity card. The police do not check the authenticity of the voter’s identity card.
An Ola driver said it took less than two hours to get associated with the company. “Go to their Gurgaon office and ask for the forms. If you do not have a PSV badge, they will ask you to get a police verification. Within two hours, they will give you Rs 5,000 and you begin working for the company,” said a driver.
Traffic police officers said that they could take action only if the government made the status of these companies clear. “They should issue strict guidelines if they want to ban the cabs. If they make it clear and really want to act, the operations of the companies can be stopped in a day,” they said.