NEW DELHI - Indian police questioned an Uber executive Tuesday about the company's claim it conducts comprehensive background checks after one of its New Delhi drivers was accused of rape.
New Delhi police official Brijendra Kumar Yadav said there is a possibility of criminal charges against the company if police find evidence the taxi-hailing app misrepresented the safety of its service.
"What we are doing is trying to ascertain what knowledge Uber had of this person," Yadav said. Police were also investigating whether the driver may have presented false documents to Uber, according to Press Trust of India.
The suspect, 32-year-old Shiv Kumar Yadav, is being held by police and will appear again in a New Delhi court on Thursday. A 26-year-old woman who hired Yadav for a ride home from a dinner engagement Friday night accused him of rape.
The police official Yadav, who is not related to the suspect, said Uber and other services that run online platforms linking drivers with customers are registered in India as technology businesses rather than transport companies.
Uber, which now operates in nine Indian cities including the financial capital of Mumbai, is valued at about $40 billion after a recent investment by venture capitalists. On Monday, the Indian capital banned the taxi service from operating in the city.
India's Transportation Minister criticized the ban, suggesting it was an unfair response to the tragedy and that some of the blame lies with the Indian system.
"It doesn't make sense to ban services. Tomorrow, if something happens on a bus we can't ban that. It is the system that needs to be changed. Banning will only cause inconvenience to the people," Gadkari said.
He called for a digitized system to track driver licenses and allow everyone's record to be viewed.
Police said the chief suspicion against Uber comes from a statement on its website saying "every ridesharing and livery driver is thoroughly screened through a rigorous process we've developed using constantly improving standards."
Yadav said this could not be the case because Uber's drivers did not have the special badges that police issue to taxi drivers proving they have cleared background checks.
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By Katy Daigle, The Associated Press