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Uber cab rape case: Police fabricated evidence, alleges accused driver

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Wednesday continued hearing final arguments in the Uber cab rape case in which a cab driver is facing trial for allegedly raping a 25-year-old woman in his car, with the accused claiming that the police has fabricated the evidence.

Continuing final arguments, accused driver Shiv Kumar Yadav’s counsel argued that there were several discrepancies in the prosecution version and even the woman has made various improvements in her statements before the court and police.

Delhi Uber cab driver Shivkumar Yadav. AFP

Delhi Uber cab driver Shiv Kumar Yadav. AFP

“The woman had told the PCR officials that she came to know about the driver’s mobile number through the cab service provider company. But she made improvements in her statement and deposed before the court that the driver had given a missed call on her mobile through which she came to know his number,” Yadav’s counsel D K Mishra told Additional Sessions Judge Kaveri Baweja.

He further said the woman had told the police that the driver had threatened her at the time of incident but she testified in the court that he had attempted to kill her.

The advocate alleged there were several missing links in the prosecution story which showed that the police had fabricated evidence to implicate the driver in the case.

The counsel had earlier alleged that the police had conducted a “shoddy and botched up” probe in the case.

The prosecutor, while advancing final arguments, had earlier said an accused can be convicted on the basis of sole testimony of the victim if it is trustworthy.

According to the prosecution, the incident took place on the night of 5 December, 2014, when the 25-year-old victim, a finance executive working in Gurgaon, was heading back home.

Yadav was arrested on 7 December, 2014 from Mathura and is currently under judicial custody.

The court has framed charges against Yadav under IPC for alleged offences of endangering a woman’s life while raping her, abducting with an intent to compel her for marriage and criminally intimidating and causing hurt.

The court had also recorded the testimony of the accused in which he termed the charge against him as “false”.

PTI

Delhi govt rejects Uber’s application to run taxis in capital

A top official said that the government had given a hearing to Uber on August 19, but it (Uber) then sought that the hearing be held on August 24.

Uber’s fresh application under new taxi scheme – ‘City Taxi Scheme’ if it submits the undertaking with their application stating they were following existing ban order imposed on it.

In a setback to US-based online cab service provider – Uber, the Delhi government has rejected again the company’s application for licence to run its taxis in the national capital. The government’s move comes around a fortnight after it rejected the application for license by another cab service provider – Ola Cabs. According to government, Uber’s application was rejected for “not complying” with its existing ban order and “not filing” undertaking stating that they are following all laid-down rules.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A top official said that the government had given a hearing to Uber on August 19, but it (Uber) then sought that the hearing be held on August 24. “On the request of the taxi firm, we accepted it, but the company officials did not turn up on the given date (August 24) for hearing. We also asked Uber to submit an affidavit stating that they are complying with the government’s ban imposed on it and other laid-down rules, but it also did not do the same,” official said.The official also said, “there are several rules like installation of digital fare meters, operation through government-approved fare structure, GPS and PSV badge, but it was now these following these rules.” In June this year, the AAP government had rejected the cab service provider’s application for not filing undertakings.Thereafter, the company had urged the government to reconsider its decision. Later, Delhi government had decided to give a hearing to the matter on August 19. Government said that it would only entertain Uber’s fresh application under new taxi scheme – ‘City Taxi Scheme’ if it submits the undertaking with their application stating they were following existing ban order imposed on it.All app-based cab services were banned in the national capital after a driver of Uber was accused of raping a 27-year-old financial consultant woman passenger in December last year. The Delhi government in March had approached the Centre to block web-based apps of Uber, Ola Cabs and TaxiForSure alleging that these companies were not complying with its ban order imposed on them.

Read the fine print: Uber doesn’t care about you or your safety

Somewhere along the way Uber has done a U-turn. And it does not augur well for the passenger.

Mid-day reports that in a 10 September update of its terms and conditions, Uber has issued, what is in effect, a statutory warning to anyone using the service.

“Uber does not guarantee the quality, suitability, safety or ability of third party providers. You agree that the entire risk arising out of your use of the services, and any service or good requested in connection therewith, remains solely with you.”

This might just be legalese to protect Uber and it does not mean the company will not endeavour to provide the best service it can, but the language still sticks in the throat. What it’s saying is though it might pretend that the customer is king in the end it’s Uber über alles.

Reuters image.Reuters image.

Reuters image.

Uber is essentially claiming it is merely an app that facilitates a service between a third party provider like a driver and the consumer. And that’s all it is. It’s a reflection of the society we live where we rely on apps who have become our middlemen. As long as it works without a hitch, it’s great. But as soon as the first problems arise, we understand the hard way what it means to be in a no-man’s land.

At one level, Uber is not without logic. It is connecting a passenger with the closest available car which will come to the doorstep. It won’t argue about the destination, haggle about the fare, demand extra because “I will have to return empty”. That convenience will come at a premium. Should an app be responsible for anything else?

Should a MakeMyTrip be responsible if a flight is delayed or a carrier loses your luggage?

Should a Shaadi.com be responsible if you meet a psychopath while looking for a soulmate?

Should an Olx vouch for everything being sold on its site and every transaction conducted on it?

The difference is these sites are giving you a range of options. The final choice is yours. Uber is assigning a driver to you. It’s not like the passenger has much choice in that matter. The passenger, in fact, is delegating the act of screening and determining a suitable driver to Uber or thinks she is. Now we know better.

It is absolutely true that there is only so much a background check will reveal. When an Uber-driver was jailed in a Gurgaon rape case, it turned out that he had been charged with an attempt to assault and rape in 2003 in Elau, for robbery and rape in Mehrauli in 2011, again for robbery and rape in Elau in 2013. All that along with some arson and illegal weapons. That such a person could become an Uber driver inspired very little confidence in the so-called “background checks” Uber was performing. A colleague whose driver joined Uber says she, as his latest employer, never ever got a call from Uber to check his background.

Then came the molestation case where an Uber driver was accused of trying to kiss a passenger in Gurgaon. Another Uber driver was arrested in Kolkata for allegedly masturbating with one hand and driving with another. Cases like that exposed the limits of background checks. These drivers, for example, had valid badges and licences. There’s no background check that will reveal if one night a driver’s hormones will get the better of him and he thinks he can grope or kiss his passenger. There’s only so much that is in Uber’s control. Uber did try and react with alacrity to those cases rather than issue a “template response”. They stressed their “zero tolerance” policy and insisted “immediate action had been taken with the driver partner while the matter is being thoroughly investigated”. An Uber spokesman told TIME that in the Kolkata case the company immediately contacted the passenger, suspended the driver and helped local authorities with their investigation.

Thus on one hand, Uber wants to create a public image of a responsible and responsive company that is trying its level best to plug all the loopholes and ensure passenger safety. On the other hand, in its legal small print it’s doing its best to not be held responsible for anything at all if push comes to shove. Attention to safety should be part of the company’s DNA, not a perk it offers its customers when convenient.

As per its revamped terms and conditions, if Uber really means what it says, it might as well now have a pop-up warning every time you confirm your Uber pick-up.

“Please enter this car at your own risk. We are not responsible for anything that happens on your ride. Thank you for using Uber. Hope you have a pleasant journey but don’t hold us to it.”

Uber cab rape case should be fast-tracked: Supreme Court

New Delhi: The sensational Uber cab rape case needs to be fast-tracked, the Supreme Court has said, disapproving the Delhi High Court’s view that the accused and not the victim will suffer by the delay in allowing the recall of prosecution witnesses.

“It may be proper to recall that the present case is in the category of cases where the trial is required to be fast tracked,” a bench of Justices J S Khehar and Adarsh Kumar Goel said while giving 10 grounds to reject the reasons given by the High Court to allow the accused to recall an re-examine 13 prosecution witnesses, including the victim, in the case.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The incident had taken place on the night of 5 December last year when the victim, who was working for a finance firm in Gurgaon, was headed back home.

While delivering its judgement, the bench said, “The Court has to keep in mind not only the need for giving fair opportunity to the accused but also the need for ensuring that the victim of the crime is not unduly harassed.”

“Witnesses cannot be expected to face the hardship of appearing in court repeatedly, particularly in sensitive cases such as the present one. It can result in undue hardship for victims, especially so of heinous crimes, if they are required to repeatedly appear in court to face cross-examination,” the bench said.

Maintaining that expeditious trial in a heinous offence as is alleged in the present case was in the interest of justice, the bench said “mere fact that the accused was in custody and that he will suffer by the delay could be no consideration for allowing recall of witnesses, particularly at the fag end of the trial.”

The apex court said the High Court in its March 10 order, has not rejected the reasons given by the trial court nor given any justification for permitting recall of the witnesses except for making general observations that recall was necessary for ensuring fair trial.

“This observation is contrary to the reasoning of the High Court in dealing with the grounds for recall, ie, denial of fair opportunity on account of incompetence of earlier counsel or on account of expeditious proceedings,” it said.

“Not a single specific reason has been assigned by the High Court as to how in the present case recall of as many as 13 witnesses was necessary as directed in the impugned order,” the apex court said.

It had allowed the appeals of the victim and Delhi Police against the High Court order.

The High Court had allowed recall of 13 prosecution witnesses, including the victim in the case, on the plea of accused cab driver Shiv Kumar Yadav and said their cross- examination will be carried out on a day-to-day basis.

“There is neither any patent error in the approach adopted by the trial court rejecting the prayer for recall nor any clear injustice if such prayer is not granted,” the Supreme Court bench further said.

It rejected the contention that the change of counsel came in the defence of the accused saying, “The trial court and the High Court held that the accused had appointed counsel of his choice.”

“He was facing trial in other cases also. The earlier counsel were given due opportunity and had duly conducted cross-examination. They were under no handicap,” the bench said.

It added that no finding could be recorded that the counsel appointed by the accused were incompetent and mere change of counsel cannot be ground to recall the witnesses.

The apex court also concluded that there is no basis for holding that any prejudice will be caused to the accused unless the witnesses are recalled and “While advancement of justice remains prime object of law, it cannot be understood that recall can be allowed for the asking or reasons related to mere convenience.”

“It has normally to be presumed that counsel conducting a case is competent particularly when a counsel is appointed by choice of a litigant. Taken to its logical end, the principle that a retrial must follow on every change of a counsel, can have serious consequences on conduct of trials and criminal justice system,” it said.

The bench also said, “it is difficult to approve the view taken by the High Court.”

PTI

Improving its image: Uber hires 20 women drivers, to raise number to 100

In an attempt to rebuild their standing in the public sphere, Uber has hired 20 women cab drivers, a number which might soon climb to 100, reports the Times of India.

Uber Taxi. ReutersUber Taxi. Reuters

Uber Taxi. Reuters

The decision comes after the rape incident in Delhi last December and  a recent  molestation complaint in Gurgaon, which put the cab service in the limelight for all the wrong reasons.

The notion behind the decision is that women would feel more safe driven around by women drivers, especially at night. It isn’t clear yet if the women drivers will only cater to women customers and whether women will be able to choose the option of getting a woman driver.

And its turning out to be a pretty decent deal for the women drivers too. In an interview with TOI, a woman cab driver for the cab service claims to earn up to Rs 3,000 a day.

But Uber is not the only cab service to go with women drivers. Ola Cabs is also encouraging women drivers to join their training program.

Other women exclusive cab services like SheCabs, Priyadarshini Taxi Service and Viira Cabs have turned up over the past five years to meet the demand of solo women travelers, with the added benefit of employing more women in a male-dominated market, reports Quartz. But the report also notes that the growth of such women drivers-only companies is slow.

Twitter fights to fake bookings: Delhi cops declare war on Uber as drivers take protest to Secretariat

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Never tried to kiss her, just shook her hand: Uber driver defends sexual harassment allegation post bail

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Enough of Uber bashing: The company tried to get it right in the Gurgaon incident

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Enough of bashing Uber: The company tried to get it right in the latest assault

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Gurgaon: FIR registered after Uber driver accused of molesting passenger

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Why protect the Badals? Molestation case in Moga no different from Uber rape

In 2012, while contesting the Punjab Assembly polls, Sukhbir Singh Badal declared himself a humble farmer. His only vehicle: an old Mussy tractor worth around Rs 2 lakh.  A few months later, ‘politician and agriculturist’ Badal acquired a huge stake in a family-owned aviation company engaged in ferrying passengers on planes and buses.

According to the Registrar of Companies (RoC) documents, Sukhbir now holds shares in Orbit Aviation in three different ways: 5,000 direct shares, about 2 crore shares through his hospitality firm Orbit Resorts and 41 lakh shares through his media firm called G-Next Media Private Limited.

Badal’s aviation company has three flying jets – an eight-seater Cessna 525A jet, another eight-seater Super King Air B 200 and a helicopter Bell 429,” according to the Times of India.

On Wednesday night, a 13-year-old girl died when she was thrown out after being molested by the staff and some passengers while travelling in a bus in Punjab. The victim’s mother, who was also pushed out, is hospitalized with severe injuries. The incident was a re-run of the Nirbhaya gang-rape in Delhi, except that the outrage was limited to Punjab.

The bus belonged to Orbit Aviation, the company co-owned by Sukhbir Singh Bada Badal, deputy chief minister of Punjab. “Unfortunately, the vehicle was ours,” his father and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said.

Representational image: ReutersRepresentational image: Reuters

Representational image: Reuters

Within hours, DGP Sumedh Singh Saini ruled out questioning of the owners. Naturally, understandably. There are owners; and there are the Badals, the first family of Punjab. Nobody crosses the path of a Badal in an Orbit of his own.

Compare this with police action that followed the rape of a woman by an Uber cab driver in Delhi in December 2014. Soon after the incident, the Delhi government banned all app-based taxi services, questioned Uber on the process of selection of drivers, screening of its staff and harassed its management through notices. The cops filed an FIR against Uber for ‘cheating’ customers on the pretext of providing safe commuting and reliable drivers.

Former home secretary and BJP MP RK Singh even insinuated that there was a case for implicating Uber as a co-accused in the rape case.

“Definitely it should be banned; also, Uber should be considered an accused. Uber is providing services, it has to take responsibility, and it should engage drivers only after verification. It is my view,” Singh had argued, while speaking to ANI. Home minister Rajnath Singh had gone on to ask all states to ban Uber cabs.

Now, nobody will suspend the licence of Orbit Aviation, find out if it had the permit to ply buses on that route, ask the management if due diligence was carried out while hiring the conductor and the helper, or whether the driver had a valid license or was given ‘gender training’. The home minister will not ask all states to ban Orbit’s buses—in case they have inter-state travel permits—or ground Badal’s planes. RK Singh will, naturally, not argue that the Badals, partners in NDA, be implicated.

This is not to argue that the Badals are in any way guilty of the crime. There may have been some lapses in hiring the staff, checking their police records, licences and testimonials; there could have been possible issues with permits, but that is where the company’s, like Uber’s, role would have ended.

But, by not acting with the same enthusiasm, by excluding owners from the probe, the Punjab police missed the opportunity to bring the murky business of private buses and their staff under the scanner, put it under the national spotlight.

This could have India’s Uber moment for private buses. Orbit’s owners may be high-fliers, but making them part of the probe would have told us more about the ground realities of travelling on buses in remote corners of India.

Uber introduces UberAuto for hailing auto rickshaws in Delhi

Uber has introduced its first ever service that allows cash payments, in Delhi.

Image credit: uber.com

Uber has introduced a new category called UberAuto for hailing auto rickshaws that is starting in New Delhi. Uber said it is for now a cash-only service with fares calculated using existing transport regulations. According to the TechCrunch website, UberAuto works just like hailing any other kind of Uber vehicle. For using this, users have to select UberAuto in the app from the options and wait for a driver to confirm. Customers can hail autos even when there is no credit in their Paytm wallet, which is the payment service that Uber integrated in India, since the focus is on cash.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Uber in a blog post has said that in Delhi when it comes to getting around, auto-rickshaws are the staple. They recognize the history and value of autos to the transportation landscape. For them, UberAuto is another way of using technology to offer more choice, making life simpler and keeps Delhi moving. In the aftermath of the alleged rape of a passenger by driver of the cab, Uber has been running its service in New Delhi under a ‘no profit model’ and UberAuto continues that approach and passengers will not have to pay booking fees or a service charge on top of the fare. Uber operates in eleven cities in India, which makes India its second largest market after the US. Uber now operate four different rides in New Delhi: Uber Black, Uber X, Uber Go and Uber Auto.

Uber cab rape case: SC stays Delhi HC order allowing accused to recall all witnesses

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the Delhi High Court order allowing the taxi driver, accused of raping a 25-year-old woman in an Uber cab in New Delhi, to recall and re-examine 13 witnesses, including the victim in the trial.

The apex court also stayed the trial court proceedings and restrained the media from reporting statements of witnesses which have been recorded after the high court’s order.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“Issue notice to the respondents. The proceedings before the trial court shall remain stayed. The high court order dated March 4 shall also remain stayed,” a bench headed by Justice JS Kehar said.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the alleged rape victim, said that the accused has wrongly been allowed to recall and re-examine the witnesses and it will create further agony for the victim and as a consequence, will delay the trial.

At the outset, the bench wanted to know as to whether recalling of witnesses can be allowed at the instance of an accused or not.

It also said that to ensure fair trial, the accused may be allowed to re-examine the witnesses.

During the hearing, the bench drew parallel with the grant and cancellation of bail to an accused with the permission to allow and disallow recalling of witnesses.

“Courts apply different yardsticks while granting and cancelling the bail. Likewise, if a court below has granted liberty to an accused to recall witnesses, then can this court deny it?” the bench said.

Gonsalves, however, said that the trial court had passed “well reasoned order” and while reversing that the Delhi High Court didn’t give any specific reason for doing that.

The apex court had on Tuesday agreed to hear plea of the woman, who was allegedly raped by Shiv Kumar Yadav, driver of an Uber cab here, after she said that recalling of witnesses amounted to retrial in the case and sought an urgent hearing on the matter.

On 4 March, the Delhi High Court had allowed recall of 13 prosecution witnesses, including the victim in the case, on the plea of Yadav and said their cross examination will be carried out on a day-to-day basis.

The high court had also made clear “not to repeat any question which has already been put to the witnesses in their cross examination by the earlier counsel”.

It had said that in case any witness is not available for the purpose of further cross examination,his/her testimony shall be read in evidence as it is.

PTI

Uber rape case: Delhi HC allows accused to recall some witnesses

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday “partly allowed” the plea of Uber cab rape accused Shiv Kumar Yadav to recall some of the prosecution witnesses for further cross-examination.

Justice Sunita Gupta passed the order on Yadav’s plea challenging the trial court’s February 18 order denying him permission to recall the witnesses.

Uber cab rape case accused Shiv Kumar Yadav. PTI

Uber cab rape case accused Shiv Kumar Yadav. PTI

The driver, who allegedly raped the woman executive, had contended he was not given a fair opportunity to defend himself.

IANS

Uber buys mapping start up deCarta

Bengaluru: Ride service Uber is buying mapping and search startup deCarta for an unspecified amount, technology website

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Mashable said on Tuesday, citing an Uber representative.

Uber will buy deCarta’s technology and talent through the deal, which closes later this week, Mashable reported.

DeCarta provides a software platform that focuses on location-based service technology, including mapping, routing and turn-by-turn navigation.

Thirty out of 40 deCarta employees will remain with the company, including Kim Fennell, chief executive officer and president, the website said.

Uber could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reuters

Delhi transport department wants Uber’s app, website banned in India: report

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Uber cab rape case: Delhi HC refuses to stay trial proceedings

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