Uber fraud: Here's how easy it is to forge documents in Delhi

New Delhi: How difficult is it to obtain a fake certificate in Delhi? Not very if you have the money and willing to bypass the routine procedure. The Uber cab driver accused of the rape of an MNC executive late last week had apparently produced the documents required of him by the company. These were either forged in connivance with officials or obtained through the tout-official nexus in the police and transport departments. From the company’s perspective, they were valid documents.

Now, to play the devil’s advocate, an operator is expected to go by the certificates issued by a government department. It is not expected to hire sleuths to do background check of the people it hires. If licenses are obtained through dubious means but has the government’s final seal, there’s little they can do. By banning Uber and other radio taxis, and not questioning its own culpability the government has taken the easiest way out. It satisfies the ‘off with his head’ crowd out there.

 Uber fraud: Heres how easy it is to forge documents in Delhi

Representational image. Reuters

It’s no secret that the operation of touts in cahoots with officials is a big industry in India. For every Shiv Kumar Yadav caught, there could be thousands like him on the loose. Firstpost wanted to check how the industry operates in Delhi and how easy or difficult it is to obtain a licence or government certificate. To the surprise of our reporter, Tarique Anwar, tenants could easily be landlords and landlords tenants in records carrying legal weight. Here’s a first person account.

While doing a reality check of how people easily get necessary documents and the police do verifications, I went to a documentation shop near my residence to get a copy of the rent agreement. There were several shops in the area that make various affidavits, agreements and deeds approved by the notary.

I was posing as the owner of the house I have rented and I mentioned the original owner as my would-be tenant with whom I wanted a rent agreement. I provided the shop owner the necessary details. A copy of the format of the rent agreement already saved in a computer system of the shop was filled with the details furnished by me orally and its printout was taken on a Rs 50 stamp paper. The paper was attested by a notary lawyer hired by the shop owner. Before signing the agreement, he did not even bother ask me to show him the documents in support of my claim that I am the landlord. He is required to get four signatures - of the landlord, the tenant and two witnesses – as proof of veracity of my claim. But he didn’t bother about these. I got the rent agreement by paying Rs 150.

I returned home with the rent agreement and decided to go to my police station to let them know I have given one of the flats of my four-storied apartment to a person. Mind you, the man whom I showed as my tenant was actually my landlord and I have been living in his house for the past seven years.

I took a copy of the PAN card of my landlord which had his signature and lying with me for a long time. In addition, I took a copy of my voter’s ID card and a telephone bill, which have the same address, to claim that the house belongs to me. I went to the police station concerned and got all the papers submitted there. I got a receiving copy from them as well. I asked the policeman concerned that when a physical verification by cops will be conducted and his reply surprised me. He said no one is going to visit my house to cross check the facts I have provided as I have already submitted the required papers.

I repeatedly asked him if this is the process of police verification of tenants and he replied, “Yes.” I again asked what is the guarantee that the details provided by me are correct, the cop said, “Ghalat details de kar tu hi phasega na. Police ke paas itna time nahin hai ki woh is area ke sare makan men ja kar puche ki kaun kiska kirayadar hai. Hamen bahut kaam rahta hai (After all, you will be held accountable if you give us incorrect information. The police don’t have time to visit all the houses in the area for physical verification of the tenants. We have a lot of work to do).”

The standard procedure of issuing the rent agreement should be: the notary lawyer should ask me to show him the necessary papers like my voter’s ID card, electricity bill, water bill, receipt of the house tax, ration card or the paper of the land in support of my claim that I am the landlord. He should also ask me to provide a copy of the tenant’s government issued ID card and proof of his native place of residence. The agreement should be signed by the landlord, the tenant and two witnessed before the lawyer’s signature. But nothing like this happened.

The police should also ask me to provide them a copy of electricity bill on my name, water bill, receipt house tax or the paper of the land in support of my claim that I am the actual landlord. They should also seek full details of the tenants. Like passport, a physical verification should be done to check the claims of both parties. But unfortunately, they failed to do so.

The Uber driver Shiv Kumar Yadav had provided a residence proof which turned out to be fake. But it had the official acknowledgement of his residence. Now, this being the reality would you blame a company for being careless while hiring people?

This piece is in no way meant to be a defence for Uber. The purpose is to highlight that banning taxis as knee-jerk action serves no real purpose. Unless we decide to confront the core issues that indirectly help criminal activities, we will keep meeting demons like Shiv Kumar Yadav at every turn.

Updated Date: Dec 12, 2014 08:12:55 IST