CHENNAI: Can the app-based call taxi service Uber be booked for criminal liability in the case relating to the rape of a woman passenger by a driver in New Delhi? While legal experts say no, a senior police officer says it can.
“In case of a civil dispute, the cab owner, driver and service provider (read Uber) will have vicarious liability and the same will be reduced to the person committing the offence in case of criminal case,” said Advocate Dhana Aravindha Balaji. “Uber cannot wriggle out of the civil liability of ensuring safety and security for clients using the service. But in case of criminal liability, the service provider will also become liable only in the instance of proven gross negligence or mala-fide intentions,” he noted.
Though the top brass of the city police too expressed the same view, a senior police officer pointed out that they could also bring in criminal liability on the part of the service provider.
“It is with their brand name they go out for advertising. The branding only brings customers to use their service and not the individual tourist taxis”, the officer said.
The officials noted that no one from Uber, which was launched in the city in February 2013, had attended any of the safety and security meetings conducted by the police. The city police had instructed the call taxi and cab operators in the city to verify the antecedents of the respective drivers in the first meeting conducted in December 2013. A recent meeting was chaired by Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) P Thamaraikannan, two weeks ago. “The taxi operators were advised to apply to Commissioner of District SP of the respective districts for criminal background verification but not from the local police station,” the pointed out.
Another advocate, K Elangovan, said the contributory negligence of the firm should also be taken into account despite trying the suspect for the respective crime.