Uber Rape case: Delivering fast justice, but appeals took their toll

New Delhi, Oct 20 (IANS) The trial court which on Tuesday delivered its verdict in the Uber rape case has wrapped up proceedings in a sort of record time.

Ten months is a short period, as cases in India tend to go on for years. The fast track court, exclusively set up for dealing with sexual offences, delivered its verdict as quickly as it could.

But even a fast-track case was stuck for more than six months in appeals before the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court — over recall of witnesses.

Additional Sessions Judge Kaveri Baweja on Tuesday convicted Shiv Kumar Yadav, the driver of Uber taxi service who was accused of raping a young passenger. Charges were framed against him dealing with rape by causing grievous bodily harm and endangering the life of a woman. Other charges included kidnapping, voluntarily causing hurt and criminal intimidation.

Yadav, arrested on December 7, 2014, faced trial for raping a woman executive on the night of December 5 in his taxi she hired to head back home in west Delhi’s Inderlok area.

Delhi Police had moved quickly to file the chargesheet in the case on December 24, 2014, 19 days after the sexual attack. A magistrate took cognizance of the chargesheet on January 5 and transferred the case to sessions court, designed for dealing with sexual offence cases.

The sessions court began hearings in the case from January 7, on a daily basis during its initial days. Charges were framed against the accused on January 13.

The court began recording of evidence on January 15 and in just 17 days, the court concluded recording of statements by prosecution witnesses.

On February 3, Yadav’s statement was recorded as an accused. He claimed innocence.

Later in the month, Yadav changed his counsel and moved an application seeking recall of prosecution witnesses, on February 16 — the date already fixed for final argument.

On February 18, the sessions court rejected his plea and started hearing final arguments.

But on February 23, Yadav, challenging the order, moved the Delhi High Court which allowed his plea to recall some witnesses, including the victim, for cross-examination.

After having been traumatised by the series of irrelevant questions being asked by defence counsel, and unwilling to go through the trauma again, the victim knocked on the door of the Supreme Court.

On March 10, the apex court stayed the order of Delhi High Court.

Then began the only delay that happened in the case. After six month of hearing, the Supreme Court, on September 10. set aside the Delhi High court order.

On September 23, the trial court resumed the final argument.

On October 7, the trial court reserved its judgment in the case, delivering a guilty verdict on October 20. Sentencing is slated for October 23.

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