Uber Banned in Delhi as CEO Vows Justice for Rape Victim

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Uber Technologies Inc. CEO Travis Kalanick
Uber Technologies Inc. Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick said in a blog post, “We will do everything, I repeat, everything to help bring this perpetrator to justice and to support the victim and her family in her recovery.” Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The Delhi state government banned Uber Technologies Inc. immediately from operating in the Indian capital after a passenger accused one of its drivers of raping her two days ago.

The company is also “blacklisted” from providing transport services in the future, according to a statement from Delhi’s Transport Department. Uber’s co-founder today joined Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh in vowing justice for the victim, 26, who told authorities that she fell asleep in the taxi and woke up to find the driver molesting her.

“What happened over the weekend in New Delhi is horrific,” Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive officer, said in a blog post. “We will do everything, I repeat, everything to help bring this perpetrator to justice and to support the victim and her family in her recovery.”

The ban and rape allegation threatens to hurt Uber’s business in India, its largest market outside the U.S. by number of cities. It comes days before the second anniversary of the December 2012 gang rape and murder of a student in a moving Delhi bus, which shocked the nation and prompted India to tighten rape laws.

Karun Arya, a spokesman for Uber, declined to immediately comment on the ban and said he’d share an update in the next few hours.

Background Checks

Shiv Kumar Yadav, the Uber driver, showed up at a district court with his face covered by a black wind-breaker with eye-holes cut out in the front. He declined to publicly reveal his identity and was remanded to police custody for three days, District Court Judge Ambika Singh said.

Delhi Police didn’t say whether Yadav had a lawyer or if he disputed the accusations.

The driver threatened the victim with physical violence, sexually assaulted her and then dropped her off at her home with a warning to not tell anyone about the incident, Singh said.

Upon being notified of the rape allegations, Uber provided authorities with the driver’s name, photograph, bank-verified address and vehicle details, the company said in a blog post. Uber’s website says it provides the “safest rides on the road” and conducts “background checks you can trust.”

“We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs,” Kalanick said. “We will also partner closely with the groups who are leading the way on women’s safety here in New Delhi and around the country and invest in technology advances to help make New Delhi a safer city for women.”

Previous Charge

Yadav had previously been acquitted for raping a victim inside his taxi in Delhi after spending seven months in judicial custody in 2011, Madhur Verma, Deputy Commissioner of Police for the capital’s north district, said today by phone.

Uber this month changed its payment method in India after breaching central bank rules that require credit-card transactions to have an additional authentication system at each point of sale. It started a service on Nov. 20 using very small cars under the brand UberGO.

Uber last week said it raised $1.2 billion at a $40 billion valuation to boost its international expansion. That bolsters its rank as the most highly valued U.S. technology startup.

Reported rapes surged more than 50 percent in India over the past decade, prompting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address sexual crimes in a national address in August.

In response to public fury about the Delhi gang rape, the government toughened laws on sexual assault, criminalized stalking and voyeurism, and allowed for capital punishment if an attack leaves the victim in a vegetative state.

“The Government of India strongly condemns this dastardly act,” Home Minister Singh said in a statement today. “It will be ensured that all necessary steps are taken to bring the offender to justice.”

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