The trial of alleged rapist and 32-year-old New Delhi Uber driver Shiv Kumar Yadav was scheduled to hear closing arguments from both sides today. But as has been the case throughout this saga, an unexpected new controversy could delay things once again.
The latest tactic by the defense is an application submitted on Monday requesting a re-examination of some prosecution witnesses. Yadav is now being represented by Advocate Dharmender Misra, who claims that his client’s previous attorney who began the trial, a novice who had passed the bar just months before, blew his duties so badly as to deny the accused of a “proper defense.”
“It is apparent that the accused did not have sufficient time to prepare his legal defense and everything was rushed in the case,” Misra says. “Justice hurried is justice buried.” He further cites “fabrications, serious manipulations, plantation, falsification, and manufacturing of and tampering with evidence,” that require a second cross-examination of all witnesses to expose.
Misra claims that Yadav’s previous representation incriminated his own client during cross examination. This includes asking the investigating officer during cross-examination about Yadav’s history of previous sexual assault allegations – he was once jailed for assault and attempted rape – without addressing their eventual outcome. Yadav was eventually released and cleared of charges.
Not surprisingly, the prosecution has opposed the latest motion, stating, “A change of defense counsel is not a ground for recall of witnesses.” Judge Baweja has promised to rule on the issue on February 18.
This isn’t the first time that Yadav and his representation have attempted to delay the proceedings. HIs counsel’s earlier request for a one-month adjournment was denied, with Judge Kaveri Baweja citing the accused’s own right to a speedy trial. The fast-track trial began on January 15, approximately a month after the alleged December 5 rape incident. Yadav stands accused of rape, causing grievous bodily harm and endangering the life of a woman, kidnapping, and criminal intimidation.
In the months since the rape accusations were first made public, Uber has announced enhanced safety and security procedures in India, while also agreeing to more stringent guidelines mandated by the Delhi Transportation Ministry. The company is currently in the process of applying for a Radio Taxi license in the country, which would permit it to operate as a taxi aggregator and dispatch service. Uber is paying its drivers as much as $ 1.5 million per month while they are off the road. The company is also facing a lawsuit in California brought by the alleged (and unnamed) victim of this incident.
It’s seemingly in Uber’s interest, as well as that of the New Delhi community that this trial conclude quickly and without further incident. Then again, any lingering doubt over the validity of the end result, such as one tainted by an incompetent defense, falls short of this goal.
[Image via manoramaonline]
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