The official website of Delhi’s black and yellow cab service — popularly known as ‘kali peeli taxis’ — promises customers a ride of ‘convenience with safety’ by ‘owner-driven cabs with verified credentials’. But on Thursday night, a 32-year-old woman who took a so-called safe cab was abducted and raped by a driver in Dwarka.
Police investigation revealed that the accused Ramesh Kumar was earlier arrested after a quarrel with fellow villagers and was also involved in an accident. Despite this, he continued driving unabashedly on Delhi roads. On Thursday night, the victim had taken Kumar’s taxi on a shared basis from Dwarka along with other passengers who got down before the victim.
The law does not permit ‘kali peeli’ taxis to take passengers on a shared basis but a majority of drivers take advantage of passengers’ helplessness and use their taxis as a shared cab. A transport department official said meters in a such taxis are installed under the ‘contract carriage permit’.
“According to the permit, once a passenger boards the taxi, the meter is switched on, which calculates the fare depending on the distance. That meter is for one passenger. It is illegal if drivers take more passengers and charge them per seat. This happens a lot in the bordering areas, especially in the North-East and Outer districts,” he added.
Officials said that once vehicle owners get permits to run taxi services, their acts go unchecked. It is not mandatory to have GPS in the such taxis. After a lax police verification process, on which the PSVs are obtained, the drivers after receiving the permit have no accountability.
With non-availability of state public transport services at night for passengers returning to Delhi from the NCR, they often have to depend on shared black and yellow cabs.
Many believe that any vehicle can operate like a cab without any permit. Drivers working for non-commercial vehicles have started luring passengers stranded in bordering areas by promising to drop them to the nearest metro station. Most passengers who return to Delhi from parts of Gurgaon and Noida after work often take shared cabs, which cost them less than R 20 to come to the Capital. Police said that a large percentage of crimes are reported from the Mehrauli-Gurgaon road where shared taxis are common.
Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Muktesh Chander said that the police take action whenever such violation is noticed. He said, “We write to the transport department requesting permits to be cancelled. They have cancelled a large number of permits. But it is also difficult to figure out if passengers are taking the taxis on shared basis.”
Joint Commissioner (Transport) Anand Tiwari said that the transport department and the traffic police regularly take action against drivers who use their taxis as shared cabs. “There are local enforcement teams who keep an eye on such drivers. At the time same, people should also be aware and stop taking shared taxis.”