islamabad - A petition against the newly-introduced cab services – Uber and Careem – has been filed before the Islamabad High Court.

A taxi driver Muhammad Abdul Shakoor moved the court against the newly-introduced taxi services saying that why the drivers associated with the two services have been exempted from relevant laws of getting registered with the transport authority, obtaining permit, licenses and coloring their vehicle as per requirement of the government.

Shakoor moved the court through his counsel Umer Gillani Advocate and cited Secretary Islamabad Transport Authority (ITA), SSP Islamabad traffic Police Malik Matloob, Chief Commissioner Islamabad Zulfiqar Haider, Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Careem Cab network Pvt Limited and general manager Uber Technologies (Pvt) Limited as respondents.

He contended in his petition that the gross violation of law by Uber and Careem has created a non-level playing field in the taxi business.

The petitioner stated in his petition that he has been driving a taxi for the last 17 years obtaining public service vehicle license and his vehicle was also registered in public transport category.

He added that Uber and Careem are the companies that set up websites which can be downloaded in smart phones and which work in conjunction with their respective websites. Through the impugned websites, apps as well as through their offices and media communication, Careem and Uber invite all car owners in Pakistan to become their agents and thereby provide rides to passengers.

He adopted that the two taxi or cab service provider are now operating in many cities of Pakistan including Islamabad. In the city of Islamabad alone, by now, the number of drivers who are providing rides to passengers as agents of the said two companies has increased manifolds.

Shakoor argued that Careem and Uber do not require the drivers registering with them to comply with any of the various requirement imposed by Pakistan’s laws upon vehicles and drivers falling in their category. And most importantly, Careem and Uber do not require the drivers have their cars painted according to a distinctive government-approved colour scheme. Due to this drivers of these two companies not fulfil any of legal requirements laid out in Motor Vehicle Ordinance, 1965 or National Highways Safety Ordinance, 2000.

He continued that these drivers ought to be prosecuted for these criminal offences and the management of Careem and Uber, being the “cause” of these violations, and being the master-mind of this plot, is also liable to prosecuted for the same criminal offences. He added that Uber and Careem try to distance themselves from the legal and regulatory liability of their drivers by claiming to be mere “information exchange” platform.

Therefore, he prayed to the court to direct ITA to ensure that new entrants into the market for contract carriage permits such as Careem and Uber are subjected to the same legal and regulatory requirements which are being enforced against the existing licensees and to proceed strictly against any regulate who refuses to comply.

Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court yesterday directed the health ministry and other respondents to submit their reply in a writ petition seeking a solution to longer working hours being imposed on doctors throughout the country.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb conducted hearing of the petition moved by Dr Nafeesa Hiba and directed the respondents to submit their para-wise comments in this matter.

Later, the court adjourned hearing in this petition till November 2 for further proceedings in this connection.

Dr Nafeesa Hiba moved the court through her counsel Saimul Haq Satti Advocate and nominated the Federation of Pakistan through the Minister of STATE for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC), Secretary NHSRC, Chief Secretaries Punjab, Sindh, KP, Baluchistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, President College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP), Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC), Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) and Advocate General Islamabad as respondents.

The petitioner stated that resident doctors are working 102 hours a week that is beyond human capacity while every alternate day they are made to work a continuous 30 hours. In India, doctors work 48 hours a week while in the west, the working hours are even less than that.

She added that with that the doctors’ work in unhygienic conditions where no proper food or safe drinking water is provided and these are the main reasons for the brain drain and many lady doctors quit this profession due to unbearable work load.

Dr Nafeesa said that she is a qualified MBBS doctor by profession but that the community of doctors is forced to perform their duties for about 102-hours per week without holidays as Post-Graduates Trainees, House Officers and Medical Officers in tertiary care hospitals.

The current schedule of work is unregulated where doctors are forced to perform through very long working hours, she stated.

The petitioner said that the residents’ doctors are working more than 102 hours per week that causes a trauma/stress to the medical professionals who get very serious diseases like insomnia as they are not even getting time/place for proper siesta, unable to join families’ get together or socialization, which is the violation of the fundamental human rights.

Further, she said that the petitioner’s community forced to perform their duties in highly unhygienic condition.

These are the reasons that more and more doctors leave the country and opt to work abroad.

Dr Nafeesa raised a few questions before the court; first that whether medical professional, dealing human life, require extensive training, study, and mastery dealing with the subject in order to treat, diagnose and prescribe patients, can come under the definition of ‘workmen’ in order to make them entitled to the benefits under the Industrial laws? If ‘Not’ why, and If ‘Yes’ then what judiciously ought to be ‘the maximum permissible duty/working schedule limit’ for such medical professionals working in tertiary care hospitals of the Govt?

The petitioner also raised a question that a doctor working under huge stress, if any medical negligence occurs who shall be responsible? Whether it is Head of the Department, Medical Superintendent/Directors, Vice-Chancellors of medical universities, Post-Graduates Trainee or a House officer?

She contended that due to the said working conditions, errors and negligence’s occurs that endanger lives of the patients. This also creates mistrust and misperception about the doctors when a patient comes with an urgent need of medical assistance and the doctor due to workload and exhaustion cannot treat him well.