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Recall of witnesses in Uber rape case: SC sets aside HC order

Recall of witnesses in Uber rape case: SC sets aside HC order

The Supreme Court on Thursday sets aside an order to re-examine the victim and a dozen other witnesses in the Uber cab rape case, underlining the accused driver sought to abuse the judicial process.

A bench of Justices J S Khehar and Adarsh K Goel allowed the appeals moved by the victim and the Delhi Police against the order of the Delhi High Court to let the accused examine the girl and 12 others one more time.

Lifting the stay on the trial proceedings, the bench also directed the trial court to expeditiously conclude the case without further delaying it. It held there was no valid ground to recall the victim and other witnesses and that the counsel for the accused had already been given opportunity in accordance with the law to examine them.

On the last date of hearing, the bench had pulled up accused Shiv Kumar Yadav, saying he was trying to “destroy the criminal justice system” by seeking re-examination of the victim, who had been “embarrassed and insulted” by him in her deposition earlier. “You are in a way trying to destroy the criminal justice system of this country. You are saying let this person sit on our head. You are trying to say that the criminal should be honoured and he should get everything he wants,” it had observed.

The court had added: “For three days, you only embarrassed her. You only insulted her. We feel you have all nonsense at your hand. For three days what did you do, except humiliate the prosecutrix who made the allegations”. The bench made the observations while hearing the pleas filed by the victim and Delhi Police, which urged the court to quash the order of the Delhi High Court on March 4, which allowed the accused to recall the victim and 12 other witnesses.

The victim, in her petition, had said that the HC order amounted to a virtual re-trial and she was made to bear the agony and humiliation of taking the witness box once again. The police described this as a “delaying tactic” by a “seasoned criminal.” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Delhi Police, had supported the victim’s appeal against the high court order, allowing the recall of witnesses. “He is not a novice. This accused has faced criminal trials earlier.

There are three rape cases, including the present one, against him. In addition to these, there are several other cases in Uttar Pradesh. The idea is to show that the accused is familiar with the court proceedings,” Rohatgi had said. While reserving its verdict, the court had last month observed that Yadav appeared to be a “master” in playing legal tricks and that he had done meticulous planning to prolong the trial and demolish the case of the prosecution.

It also said the delay of several months in the trial has led to unnecessary harassment of the victim, as it is very traumatic experience for her to depose again and again. The accused has misused the process of law, added the bench. It also said it may lay down guidelines as to whether an accused has the right to get witnesses recalled for re-examination in a criminal trial.

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