The Indian criminal justice system, especially after the advent of the fast track court has taken a completely new turn in ensuring justice to certain victims. The past has witnessed the judiciary and the judicial system face a lot of flak in terms of delayed judgements and eventual lack of justice. However, some change is in the air, after an ex-Uber driver was convicted for rape on Tuesday. The incident took place in the national capital 10 months ago. The accused, Shiv Kumar Yadav, was accused of raping a 25-year-old woman inside the radio taxi that she had booked to travel back on her way home. According to news reports, he could be sentenced to life imprisonment after the final hearing on October 23. Yadav was booked under multiple laws by Additional Sessions Judge Kaveri Baweja on charges of rape along with physical assault. He has been additionally booked for kidnapping and abduction. Special public prosecutor, Atul Srivastava, spoke to the media about the hearing and confirmed that he would take this opportunity to set an example and hence would be demanding the court for the maximum punishment possible. It was last year in New Delhi that authorities had banned the use of Uber post the incident claiming that the app-based service was not responsible as they did not do a background check on their drivers. The incident created a huge controversy that gave rise to a nationwide debate about women’s safety which was presumed to be assured by app-based services like Ola, Uber and Meru. They claimed to provide absolute security on account of running checks on their drivers and tracking the cabs.
The defence lawyer, D.K Mishra has absolutely denied these allegations and gone ahead on record saying that the conviction was baseless. He further added that they wouldn’t let Yadav go down easily and have planned to appeal against the judgement after reviewing the Judge’s final hearing on Friday. Amit Jain, president of Uber India spoke to the media and expressed his views on the grave situation saying that sexual assault is a grave crime and they support the court’s decision. This though was a statement issued after the victim had sued Uber in the U.S Federal Court earlier in January, before withdrawing it soon after. Though Uber, post the incident have assured a scrutiny and a revaluation of their drivers in order to ensure security in their services worldwide, one such incident is enough to point out flaws that exist within the system. With radio taxis now being the popular medium of transport, some even cheaper than autos in cities like Mumbai, the business is definitely on its way up. The events of December 5 made it abundantly clear that no through background checks were done on the driver, as investigations by the Delhi police found that the perpetrator was involved in a previous case of sexual assault. One could argue that Uber is entering into a contract with a driver, who Delhi transport and police authorities feel is unfit to ferry passengers across the city. However, considering the pathetic state of our public records, it should have been incumbent upon Uber to conduct further checks. Meanwhile, the government must scrutinise these app-based services and establish workable standards of service and care.