UBER CASE: SC slams accused for "humiliating, harassing" victim by recalling her as a witness
Justice Khehar bench also to lay down rule as to when an accused can recall witnesses
After a day-long hearing in the Uber rape case, the Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict on two pleas-- of Delhi police and the 25-year-old woman executive, the victim-- against a March 4 order of Delhi High Court allowing the accused cab driver to recall 13 prosecution witnesses, including the girl in the trial.
Reserving its verdict, the SC also most importantly said it will interpret the law and lay down guidelines as to when an accused can recall witnesses for re-examination in a criminal case.
As per the charge sheet filed by Delhi Police, the incident took place on the night of December 5 last year when the victim, who was working for a finance company in Gurgaon, was headed back home. She had taken the taxi from Vasant Vihar to go to her house in Inderlok and the accused after taking another route, raped her, police said.
Shiv Kumar Yadav, the driver and his lawyer was slammed by the court saying they were only trying to “embarrass, humiliate and insult” the victim by persuading the trial court to recall her as a witness.
The court “prima-facie” was of the view that there was no ground to recall the girl to the court once she had completed her deposition.
“I don’t think you had any relevant question for re-examination you just embarrassed her for three days when she was called by the trial court for re-examination…except for humiliating her you did nothing on those days”, a bench of justice J S Khehar and justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said.
The victim’s lawyer termed as “totally wrong” the conclusion of the High Court that it is the accused alone who stands to suffer on account of the delay and had told the court that “it is the victim who suffers the most for having to go through a trial virtually from the beginning all over again”
The bench agreed with the view of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi who appeared for the Delhi Police that the accused was involved in delay tactics."The accused is not a novice to Court. He has been charged with similar offence before. Accused was familiar with court process. He knows which counsel to engage; gave up legal aid counsel, chose another lawyer", Rohatgi had told the court
Both the bench and AG ripped apart the accused’s lawyer when he told the court that “My defence is that in order to file a suit against Uber in USA, this case was planted”
“Don't play fool with us. We are used to counsel. We are used with the jugglery of words, it said at the fag end of the day and asked the counsel for accused to show one good ground for recall of witnesses including the girl.
Questioning the plea of the accused that he was rightly allowed by the High Court to recall the witnesses, the bench said the accused cannot seek this on the pretext that his lawyer was a novice as he has been familiar with court proceedings.
“We have to weigh both sides. If we say that incompetency of a lawyer is a ground to recall witnesses then a lot of similar cases will come to us. If we do not do this, then it may cause injustice to some of the accused. So we will have to weigh both the sides, said Justice Khehar.