Taking cognisance of recent rape by an Uber cab driver, the Central Information Commission today pulled up the transport department, saying it is an alarming aspect that certain taxis are left free on the roads without any policy prescription for such verification and mandatory training.
It directed the department to proactively disclose the policy, in which certain taxis do not require any badge or follow stricter conditions, under Section 4(1)(c) and (d) of RTI Act, especially when these administrative decisions and policies are seriously affecting the safety of people at large in the national capital city.
“It appears that this crime could have been prevented if the transport authorities had first prescribed the badge as part of the permit conditions and enforced it strictly,” Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said in his order.
A 27-year-old woman was allegedly raped by the driver of the taxi called through Uber web application here on December 5, triggering a massive regulatory crack down of web-based taxi booking services.
Acharyulu said it should have necessitated police verification where perhaps, the rape accused Shivkumar Yadav’s real character or fake certificates could have been discovered leading to refusal of permit to ply on Delhi roads.
“Absence of this rule reflects defective or bad governance of Transport Authority,” he said.
The RTI applicant pleaded before the CIC that he found to his surprise that no special permit conditions were there for black and yellow taxis (DL 1T type) and tourist permit taxis (DL 1Y type).
The CIC said this means that these taxis can ply without obtaining particular badge and that if driver was caught he could simply walk free after paying maximum fine Rs 100 cash on the spot.
“The commission finds it an alarming aspect that certain taxis are left free on the roads without any policy prescription for such verification and mandatory training, which facilitate the crime such as recent sexual assault on a woman by the driver of a tourist taxi operating through a mobile-app based company,” Acharyulu said.
The commission directed the authority to inform the public in general, women in particular and the CIC, why such effective regulatory permit conditions were not imposed, what measures were taken to restrict sexual crimes in the transport vehicles in streets of Delhi and whether it was considering any other permit conditions to be imposed, if not the above, to check the criminal conduct of drivers, and their irresponsible employers.
“The commission finds that there is an urgent need to frame strict permit conditions and enforce them immediately. The commission directs the public authority to inform the public at large their policy or administrative decision and reasons for that regarding the points raised by the appellant and to prevent the sexual assaults,” Acharyulu said.
The CIC said the transport authority should have taken the fact of crimes on wheels as serious phenomenon affecting its reputation and to ensure effective governance of transport administation.