Delhi High Court directs filing of contempt plea in Uber case

December 13, 2014 09:54 am | Updated April 07, 2016 04:20 am IST - NEW DELHI:

The Delhi High Court on Friday directed filing of a contempt petition in a case of legal liability of Internet companies, including web-based taxi booking service Uber, doing business in India without following norms. Uber was accused of failing to pay service tax and appoint a grievance officer.

In his application moved in the High Court as part of an ongoing public interest litigation on accountability of Internet companies, former BJP ideologue K.N. Govindacharya contended that Uber was able to perpetuate its illegal operations in India due to failure of authorities to ensure compliance with various laws and the High Court’s earlier orders.

Petitioner’s counsel Virag Gupta withdrew the application, which was dismissed by a Division Bench comprising Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul. The Court said if there was non-compliance of its order, the petitioner should file a contempt petition.

The High Court had on August 23 last year directed Internet companies to display on their websites the names and contact details of grievance officers to deal with complaints by Internet users as mandated by the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011.

Mr. Govindacharya said Uber, being an intermediary, had never appointed grievance officer as per the legal mandate and was engaged in huge business operations through thousands of drivers. More than 20 such taxi service companies are operating in India without complying with laws, while the agreements by Internet app companies with Indian users were illegal as they were not authenticated with digital signatures.

Mr. Gupta said the so-called ban on Uber was an eyewash as it was not possible to outlaw an Internet app company in Delhi alone. “It can either be banned throughout India or will continue to remain operational in the country.”

Additional Solicitor-General Sanjay Gupta said the Centre had earlier issued advisories to the intermediaries to appoint grievance officers and the Secretary, Information Technology, was not at fault as claimed by the petitioner.

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