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Two senior ministers in the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet on Tuesday locked horns over banning of all web-based radio taxis. After Home Minister Rajnath Singh asked all the state governments to go ahead with its circular to forbid such taxi services, it invited a ‘subtle’ criticism from Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, who questioned how can government issue such directives.

This led to the Congress leader Anand Sharma making a statement in the Rajya Sabha, possibly directed at Gadkari, that the government must clarify their stand when the Home Minister’s cabinet colleague has criticised the ban on Uber. Singh, while making a statement in the Upper House following the rape incident, said, “The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has advised the state government and union territories to ensure that the operations of web-based taxi services are stopped and such service providers which are not licensed with the state governments or union territory administration are prohibited to operate till they get registered themselves with the administration. The Delhi Police are examining the legal liability of Uber taxi services.”

Before Singh could conclude his statement, the opposition leader pointed out that there is a conflict in the government as the Transport Minister has spoken against the ban on Uber taxi services.

Questions were also being raised on what the government was doing for all these years to plug the loop holes in the system in allowing such transport service to ply on city roads. “How were the unregistered services operating in the city. There seems to a police connaivance,” said a Congress leader.

On Tuesday the government has issued an advertisement in newspapers that Uber was not following the MV Act norms, but many feel that they should have acted earlier instead of issuing such public notice out of embarrassment only after much hue and cry over the rape incident.

In another knee-jerk reaction, the Centre has decided to get a report from the National security Advisor Ajit Doval in the matter. “Preventive, arresting and prosecuting the rape accused is the job of the Delhi police. God only knows, what has prompted the government to engage Doval in this case,” a senior Delhi police officer said. Reacting over the MHA’s directive, Gadkari while speaking to the reporters outside the Parliament Complex said “Banning Uber, an international taxi-booking service, does not make sense.”

A visibly annoyed Gadkari said, “Modern services like these (web based cab service) should be encouraged and if there is some lacuna, it should be rectified. It doesn’t make sense to ban services. Tomorrow, if something happens on a bus, we can’t ban that. Similarly, if something of this sort happens on a plane that too cannot be banned.”

“In countries like UK and US there are such modern cab services operating successfully. We too must encourage it,” he said, while disagreeing with the decision to ban Uber cab services in Delhi in the wake of the alleged rape of a 27-year-old woman in a taxi plying under it. He stressed that that lacunae in such systems should be plugged rather than taking such drastic steps, which against modernization.

On the context of State Government, he said, they have the right to take a decision in such matters. “It is up to them to decide because the subject is in Concurrent List. They have equal right to take a decision about it,” he said, while revealing that 30 per cent of driving licences in the country were bogus and he is planning to implement a new system to replace the Motor Vehicles Act.

Uber had faced issues with its payment system. Following Reserve Bank of India’s direction, the company has now complied with the norms. The company had run into regulatory hurdles with the RBI after the latter raised concerns about Uber’s payment system including its authentication process. Meanwhile, Uber has been sued in an American city, banned in Thailand and Spain, for running illegal taxi services.


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