New Delhi bans all web taxis after Uber rape claim

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New Delhi has extended a ban on Uber to all web-based taxi services in the Indian capital, as the US-based operator said it would continue operating despite the order, which followed a rape allegation against one of its drivers.

The city government announced on Monday it was banning Uber with immediate effect after a young female passenger accused the driver of raping her over the weekend.

Hours later, it said all other taxi service providers that rely on “web-based technology” must also cease operating in the city because they did not comply with local regulations.

But an Uber executive told AFP on Tuesday that it was still operating in New Delhi and had received no formal notice from the government.

“We have not received any official notification (about the ban). If and when we do, we will of course appeal it,” said the executive, who asked not to be named.

“As of now we have not stopped our operations in Delhi.”

Delhi police said they had registered a case against the company for “cheating” and had summoned its officials for questioning over the alleged rape.

Police said Uber did not conduct a background check on the driver, who had been acquitted of a separate rape charge in 2012. Uber said it complied with local rules and background checks were not required.

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It is the latest setback for the popular but controversial San Francisco-based start-up, which lets customers hail and pay for taxis or private vehicles via a smartphone app.

The company’s rapid growth has caused tensions, especially in Europe where rival taxi companies have protested that Uber cars are not subject to the same regulations.

Dutch judges on Monday ordered the company to shut down UberPOP, which allows non-professional drivers to register, saying it was against the law to charge for a ride without a licence.

Also on Monday, authorities in the US city of Portland, Oregon, asked a court to stop Uber from operating in the city, saying it did not comply with local rules.

In India, Uber says it works with licensed drivers and is a taxi aggregation service, putting passengers in touch with nearby available cabs.

The company set up its India operation in September 2013 and also provides services in 10 other cities across the country.

Unlike radio taxi services, which will be allowed to continue operating in Delhi, it does not have a 24-hour call centre operation, relying instead on Twitter and email for customer support.

The latest incident has once again raised the issue of women’s safety in India, days before the second anniversary of a fatal gang-rape of a Delhi student that unleashed widespread outrage.

The victim dozed off in the taxi as she was returning home from dinner. She told police she woke to find the taxi parked in a secluded place where the driver assaulted and raped her, before dumping her near her home in north Delhi.

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