New Delhi/Nagpur: There was high drama at the fast-track court set up to try the rape of a 25-year-old executive by Shiv Kumar Yadav, a former driver with app-based taxi service Uber, after he was sentenced to life imprisonment. The sentence was pronounced merely nine months after the court started hearing the case.
On hearing the sentence, Yadav’s wife Munni Devi, who was present with their two minor daughters and her father-in-law, started crying inconsolably and fainted shortly after. Yadav, too, was stunned at the quantum of the sentence and kept mumbling that it was a “trial by media right from the start”.
While additional public prosecutor Atul Shrivastava received the verdict with jubilation, defence counsel DK Mishra said, “The sentence was disproportionate to the facts of the case. This case warranted leniency, not the maximum sentence.”
The judgment was delivered by additional sessions judge Kaveri Baweja immediately after both sides had presented their arguments. Yadav, a repeat offender, has been sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment (RI) for life under section 376  [m] (while committing rape causing grievous bodily harm or disfiguring or endangering life of a woman), RI for 10 years under section 366 (abducting with an intent to compel her for marriage), RI for seven years under section 506 (criminal intimidation) and RI for one year under section 323 (causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code. In addition to this sentence, Yadav would also have to pay a fine of Rs21,000.
Arguing in favour of the maximum penalty, Shrivastava maintained that the convict had committed a heinous crime of rape while endangering the life of the prosecutrix which is tantamount to a grave crime against the society at large. He appealed that the maximum punishment would bring about a “balance and answer to the collective cry of the society”.
Family members of the victim who were present during the sentencing said they were “relieved and satisfied” with the verdict announced.
Yadav, who got to spend some time with his family while awaiting his judgment copy, was immediately taken to Tihar jail to serve his time. His wife remained inconsolable throughout as she clutched onto him. Yadav’s father said he’s taking solace from the fact that the defence lawyer will appeal in the HC.
In her judgment, Baweja has directed the Delhi Legal Service Authority to compensate the victim and her family, while directing them to take cognisance of Yadav’s family that has lost its sole breadwinner.
When contacted, Amit Jain, president, Uber India, said, “Sexual assault is a terrible crime and we’re pleased he has been brought to justice. Safety is a priority for Uber and we’ve made many improvements — in terms of new technology, enhanced background checks and better 24×7 customer support — as a result of the lessons we learned from this awful case. That said, Uber can always do better, which is why we are continually looking for ways to improve safety before, during and after the ride.”
The Uber rape case garnered much media and public attention since it followed close on the heels of the Nirbhaya case that brought about amendments to pertinent sections of the law, changing the way rape cases were tried. In response to the crime, the Delhi government had also banned the app-based taxi service with immediate effect.