EVEN AS a 27-year-old woman — who was raped inside an Uber taxi in Delhi in 2014 — filed a complaint against the cab aggregator and its officials for “obtaining and sharing her detailed and confidential medical records” in California, court documents in the Delhi showed that the medical evidence in the case was “sealed”. Officials from Wigdor LLP, the law firm which has filed a civil suit on behalf of the woman, seeking compensation before the US District Court, Northern District of California, said, “The new complaint arises as a result of Uber obtaining her detailed and confidential medical records, sharing them amongst executives and discussing that her rape was somehow part of a plan hatched by a competitor to derail Uber’s growth in India.”
However, records at Tis Hazari fast-track court — where the trial in the case took place — point out that after the woman was examined at Hindu Rao Hospital on December 6, 2014, medical evidence in the case were “sealed”. The records also state that the “sealed exhibits” were deposited by the Delhi Police in the malkhana. “Dr Neelam Saraswat deposed that on 6.12.14, while she was working as Senior Resident at Hindu Rao Hospital, the prosecutrix was produced before her for her medical examination by police officials… The sexual assault kit was also sealed with a seal of the hospital. The prosecution witness also deposed that she handed over the parcel and sexual assault kit to the police officer,” Additional Sessions Judge Kaveri Baweja had stated in her conviction order.
The court had sent the accused, Shiv Kumar Yadav, to life imprisonment. Sources, meanwhile, told The Indian Express that the “physical documents” related to the medical evidence were in the possession of the police before the chargesheet was filed in the case. “The copy of the physical evidence was then given to the prosecution and the defence lawyers once the chargesheet was filed… No other person could have sought the physical copy,” the source said.
The woman sub-inspector, who had taken the woman for medical examination had also deposed before the court that the “two sealed parcels …with the sample seal from the examination doctor” was “taken into police possession through “seizure memo”. The court documents further state that the seizure memo relating to medical evidence, was “signed” by the rape survivor. The attorney for the rape survivor, in California, has said that the woman is “entitled to recovery” against Uber in “an amount to be determined at trial”. “Uber executives violated her a second time by unlawfully obtaining and sharing her medical records and have failed, as of the date of this filing, to apologise to her,” the complaint alleges.
“Former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick; Eric Alexander, the then VP, Business, Asia; and Emil Michael, Uber’s then Senior VP, Business, bought into the narrative of ‘rape denial’, which focusses on whether a victim had been drinking, what she was wearing, or whether she knew the alleged rapist, rather than on the physical, emotional and financial toll that rape takes on a victim,” it adds. When contacted, an Uber spokesperson said, “No one should have to go through a horrific experience like this, and we are truly sorry that she’s had to relive it over the last few weeks.”