Even if it was an “oral observation”—meaning it is not legally binding, but may indicate the court’s thinking—the Delhi High Court had it right when it said that the Delhi government must lift the ban on app-based taxi aggregators like Uber, Ola, etc. As the judge hearing the case, Justice Manmohan, observed, the companies can’t be held liable for crimes committed by affiliated drivers. (The Delhi government had banned the companies after a Uber driver was accused of raping a passenger in December 2014.) Given the business model of these companies—they connect, through mobile apps, those hailing rides with independent cab-drivers—there is indeed a bit of a grey area as to whether an Ola or an Uber could be held accountable to the same rules that apply to radio taxis. Nevertheless, these companies, as per their court submissions, had asked for police verification from their affiliated drivers and continue to do so.
Therefore, Justice Manmohan’s observation that the companies couldn’t be held responsible for the crimes of a driver affiliated with them seems valid. The matter is indeed one of administration not being able to keep up with the advancements in technology. Disruptive, fast-paced developments in technology call for equally smart and fast responses from regulation, not bans on them. In fact, the high court’s comment, that the government shouldn’t shut the companies out because it “can’t deal with technology” is advice that administration everywhere needs to heed