Uber cab driver Shiv Kumar Yadav, charged with rape, on Wednesday declined to “examine himself” before a fast track court that was scheduled to record his statement. Yadav said “he was not ready” as he was allegedly being beaten up by police. The court then closed the recording of defence evidence and fixed the final arguments in the case for next week.
The court witnessed heated debate between the newly appointed defence counsel and the public prosecutor when the defence moved an application for adjournment of proceedings, seeking more time to prepare his defence.
Special public prosecutor Atul Shrivastava vehemently opposed the plea, stating that “fast track trial is a fundamental right” and that the defence was using “delaying tactics” to just slow down the trial. “The trial is not only for accused but also for the victim and speedy trial is a fundamental right. The accused has never asked for a new counsel or never stated that he has no faith in court. Every evidence has been recorded in his presence. The delay should not be permitted. This is contemptuous,” Shrivastava argued.
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The defence objected to the use of the word “contemptuous”, asking the court to record the use of the word. The judge, however, asked the defence to argue on merit and not “cross limits”.
Defence counsel D K Mishra, arguing for adjournment, stated that he required “more time to prepare his defence”. “I am constrained to prepare my defence as I am not a person with supernatural powers. Speedy trial is not mandatory but directory in nature. There are so many cases, even in this court, where the trial has been pending for over six months. I seek time as I have to take expert advice on scientific evidence,” the defence argued. The court, however, dismissed the application.
Meanwhile, when Additional Sessions Judge Kaveri Baweja asked the accused “whether he wants to examine himself as the defence witness”, Yadav stated, “I am not in a position to record my statement. I am being repeatedly beaten up after the media started reporting false stories… No action has been taken. Why do they come to court to report, I am being beaten up due to the media.”
The ASJ said, “If you are being beaten up, why don’t you write an application in court. We will set up an inquiry.”
The court, which had in the last hearing too given time to Yadav’s advocate to prepare the defence evidence, asked him if he was going ahead with it. The counsel replied in the negative. The judge then closed the defence evidence and fixed the case for February 16 for hearing final arguments, beginning with the prosecution.