The trial in the Uber rape case will be remembered as one of the fastest trials since six fast-track courts were set up in Delhi to deal with cases of sexual offences.
The six courts were set up in the wake of the December 16 gangrape in the capital.
The Uber rape case trial began on January 13 this year. It took just 17 days for the prosecution to record the evidence and 15 days for it to examine the 28 prosecution witnesses named by the Delhi Police. A plea moved by Yadav’s counsel, seeking permission to recall witnesses — granted by the Delhi High Court but later struck down by the Supreme Court — delayed the trial to an extent.
“If one has to look at the trial court proceedings, it has taken just a month for the trial to be completed, including the final arguments. The court ordered day-to-day trial and we completed the trial on a fast-track basis. This case will stand out, on how rape trials can be fast-tracked,” Special Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava told The Indian Express.
“This was a case where the investigation agency also fast tracked the probe and filed a chargesheet in just 19 days. This aspect of the probe agency has to be appreciated. In the end, the media also helped in highlighting the case, which helped in its speedy disposal,”he added.
Shrivastava was specially appointed by the Delhi government to conduct the proceedings in the case.
The Uber rape trial “was a class example of a fast-track trial”, said Shubhra Mendiratta, counsel for the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW). However, she added that the fast-tracking of rape trials should not be based on a “pick and choose” system.
“I appreciate the fast-track trial in the case. This is a classic example of how the police and the judiciary has acted swiftly, providing justice to the victim. But such speedy disposals of rape cases should take place even in the absence of media scrutiny. There should not be a ‘pick and choose’ method adopted by the agencies in delivering justice. Even the poorest should have access to such speedy trials in the fast-track court,” Mendiratta told The Indian Express.
In fact, the functioning of the fast-track courts, set up in January 2013, had raised some questions about how effective they actually were.
The six courts had completed trials in barely 400 cases last year, fewer than the number of trials they completed in the year before. According to data released at the end of 2014, there were 1,080 pending cases in these courts. In fact, the rate of disposal of cases was lower than it was in 2012, when over 500 cases were disposed of by the regular sessions court.