Uber Rape Case: Supreme Court allows the victim’s plea against the order to recall witness

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A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India, H L Dattu is all set to hear an appeal by the 25-year old victim in the controversial Uber cab rape case. The appeal concerns an order by the Delhi High Court to recall 12 witnesses and the victim and have them examined afresh by the newly appointed counsel for the accused. The hearing will be held today.

The Supreme Court bench heard senior advocate Colin Gonsalves’s plea to list the victim’s case for an urgent and early hearing. Appearing on behalf of the victim, Mr.Gonsalves asserted that he will argue in favour of the grant of a permanent stay against the order of the Delhi High Court. The Delhi High Court earlier, allowed the freshly appointed counsel for the accused to recall all the witnesses including the victim for re-testifying in the matter. Further, the bench asked Colin Gonsalves to correct all the defects in the petition before the hearing takes place.

Earlier, on the 4th of March, accused Shiv Kumar Yadav’s plea for recalling the witnesses including investigating officers, doctors and the victim was allowed by the Delhi High Court. Shiv Kumar Yadav had earlier complained that too much haste was being made in the way the proceedings were being conducted in the matter. He also complained of being represented poorly in the case. However, the victim’s appeal before the Supreme Court rejected Yadav’s claims of hurried proceedings. According to the victim’s counsel, the order by the Delhi High Court amounts, in essence, to an order for re-trial on the flimsiest of grounds given by the accused. The counsel further argued that the High Court order has the potential to cause grave injustice to the victim, as it would result in great delay in the adjudication process.

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The petition argued that the High Court is incorrect in its position to solely consider the fact that the accused is the only one to suffer on account of the delay in the disposal of the petition, when the victim herself is being subjected to the excruciating formality of having to sit through the entire process of adjudication from scratch.

The petition further pointed that the High Court had made a grave error in not offering the victim and the counsels appearing on her behalf, an opportunity to oppose and be heard against the accused’s indirect plea for re-trial. And now, the victim will have to pay for the High Court’s mistake, by reliving the traumatising experience, said the petition.

The petition sought an immediate stay against the Delhi High Court order arguing that there are grounds to believe that recalling witnesses in the case is just another ploy to victimize the petitioner.

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by Siddhartha Singh.