Uber Rape case: Supreme Court stays the Delhi High Court order for recall of witnesses

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Today, the Supreme Court finally stayed the Delhi High Court order which had permitted the accused in the Uber rape case, Shiv Kumar Yadav to recall and re-examine the 13 witnesses in the case, which include the victim. The Court also agreed to listen to the victim’s plea challenging the Delhi High Court order.

Issuing a notice to the accused as well as the Delhi police at the instance of the victim, the Supreme Court admitted the victim’s pleas that she should not be allowed to re-live the torturous experience of a rape-trial once again by allowing the newly appointed counsel for the accused to re-examine/cross-examine all the witnesses including herself once again. The rape victim had challenged the order of the Delhi High Court of March 4.

Earlier, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing on behalf of the accused argued that the High Court had committed a mistake in allowing the accused to recall and re-examine the witness even after all the witnesses have been duly examined and the prosecution evidence completed. According to the counsel, the order of the High Court may potentially delay the trial court proceedings. He requested the Court to expedite the hearing on the issue.

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The rape survivor in her petition before the Court had argued that the High Court had passed the order of March 4 without granting her a chance to be heard. According to the petitioner, the order of the High Court is unconstitutional and contrary to the rules and principles governing recall and re-examination of witnesses under Section 311 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Consequently, the order is nothing but an instance of grave injustice, in contravention to the scheme of speedy trial advocated by the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013, the petition observed.

The petitioner pointed out that despite the fact that the trial as well as the examination of witnesses was conducted without defect (the Court admitted as much), the High Court had permitted the recall of witnesses. According to the petitioner, the accused was not the person who may be wronged on account of the delay, but the victim who is vulnerable to harassment.

The incident under the scanner in the case took place on the night of December 5 last year, when the woman returning from Gurgaon had taken an Uber cab from VasantVihar to her home in Inderlok. However, according to the prosecution the accused Shiv Kumar Yadav had taken another route and raped her, allegedly.

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by Siddhartha Singh.