To ensure the safety of passengers, app-based taxi operators applying for licences under the new City Taxi Scheme 2015 will have to make sure that their drivers have ‘good moral character and do not have criminal background’.
The Maharashtra government is planning a new scheme to create a level playing field for all taxi operators and bring app-based aggregators within its purview. Last week, the transport commissioner submitted the draft notification of the scheme to the state government.
Documents accessed by HT revealed taxi operators will not be able to appoint drivers convicted for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in past seven years.
Similarly, drivers convicted for any cognizable offence under Criminal Code of Procedure (CrPC), 1973, including fraud cases, sexual offences, using motor vehicles to commit a cognizable offence, crimes involving property disputes and acts of violence or terror, cannot be engaged by the operators.
Sources said it will be necessary for the operators to make details of ownership of taxis and profiles of drivers available to the transport department and the traffic police. They added that the government will put the onus of getting the drivers’ police verification done on the operators. This will have to be done before their induction and renewal of driving licences.
After a woman commuter was raped by a driver of an Uber cab in New Delhi last year, the state transport department had asked the police to conduct criminal background verification of all drivers of app-based taxis, based on the data provided by the operators. The companies too were instructed not to appoint any driver without thorough criminal background verification.
The transport department has already made public service badges mandatory for app-based taxi drivers, like the black-yellow and fleet cab drivers. Under the new scheme, sources said, the public service badges and valid licences will be necessary for every driver.
Sources said under the new scheme, taxi operators will be responsible for making sure the drivers appointed are reliable and trustworthy. The operators will also have to conduct training programmes once in a year, to train drivers in safe driving, gender sensitisation and etiquette.
More women drivers in city?
Last November, a woman passenger was raped by a driver of an Uber cab in Delhi. The incident resulted in furor among people and therefore the government agencies become extra cautious about safety of taxi passengers, especially women. After the incident, the Union government directed all the states to conduct background verification of all the drivers of app-based and radio cabs.
Also, several women commuters prefer to travel in taxis driven by women drivers. Keeping this in mind, the transport department has also laid a condition in the new scheme that the operators should try to appoint as many as possible women drivers as possible.