SC to hear plea on accountability for phone-cab drivers

13 Oct 2017


The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to examine a plea to regulate app-based taxi service providers like Ola and Uber to make them accountable for offences committed by drivers of their vehicles.

The court took note of the fact that the headquarters of most internet-based taxi providers are located in foreign countries and recently Uber was banned in London for refusing to subject to the jurisdiction of local laws.

"The issue of regulating public transport, including internet-based taxi services, will be taken up on 7 December," a bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.

The bench's remark came after senior advocate Indira Jaising, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in a matter related to the implementation of victim compensation scheme for sexual offences and acid attacks and women security, said several incidents of crime committed by their drivers have been reported.

She said recently Uber was banned from plying in London as they had refused to subject themselves to the jurisdiction of the local courts.

"These companies who run the app-based tax services do not have company headquarters in India. Some companies have their headquarters in Norway or in other foreign countries. It is very difficult to hold them accountable for any crime committed by their drivers," Jaising said.

She said that several crimes committed by these drivers have come to notice in the recent past and it is necessary to have some regulatory framework for the companies running these services.

The bench also asked the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) to draft a model framework for the release of funds under the Victim Compensation Scheme by 31 December.

It asked NALSA to set up a committee of about 4 or 5 persons to prepare model rules for victim compensation for sexual offences and acid attacks taking into account the suggestions from Jaising.

"The chairperson or the nominee of the chairperson of the National Commission for Women should be associated with the committee. The report of the committee be filed on or before December 31, 2017," the bench ordered.

The apex court observed that model rules so framed should have uniformity and not be on case-to-case basis.

Jaising also raised the question of victim protection and said directions could be issued as in many cases, the victim succumbs to the pressure of the accused and turns hostile.

She said the existing victim compensation scheme lacks clarity and there should be guidelines for media reporting on rape cases too.

Earlier this month, the central government had told the apex court that it was finding it difficult to get the cooperation of states on the issue relating to disbursal of compensation to the victims of sexual assault under the Nirbhaya fund.

The Nirbhaya Fund was announced by the Centre in 2013 after the sensational 16 December 2012 gangrape and murder case in Delhi to support the initiatives of the governments and the NGOs working towards the safety of women.

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