The Delhi Police moved the Supreme Court to set aside the Delhi high court’s decision ordering a re-trial in the Uber rape case because recalling the witnesses would prejudice the survivor who underwent a “harrowing time” answering 123 questions when she appeared the first time.
The appeal comes a week after the top court bench headed by Justice JS Kehar put on hold the trial in the case.
On a plea by the survivor, the court issued notice to the accused Shiv Kumar Yadav on whose petition the HC had ordered re-examination of 13 police witnesses. The SC will take up the appeal after three weeks.
The Delhi Police appeal said the HC had not justified its order. It faulted the ground taken by the accused to seek the retrial. In its prayer before the HC, Yadav had said his first lawyer, Alok Kumar, was a novice and did not defend him properly.
“The previous defence counsel had the survivor 123 questions in the cross-examination that in itself was self-explanatory of his dedication,” the Delhi Police appeal said, adding, the plea that his first counsel was incompetent was an attempt to delay the trial to harass the survivor.
After the HC order, the survivor has appeared in the trial court for three days and had a harrowing time while being cross-examined. The police stated her examination remains incomplete and the new counsel has refused to complete it within a particular time frame. This, it added, would delay the trial and force the survivor to re-live the trauma she underwent again.
According to the HC reasoning, a delay in trial by the accused would prejudice him. The Delhi Police said this was wrong as it was the victim who was undergoing harassment for no fault of hers.
“If the re-examination of the witnesses is allowed in this case, then it will set a bad precedent for future trials as every accused would take the plea of not being satisfied with his or her previous counsel. This will not only delay the deliverance of justice but also burden the already burdened courts,” the appeal said, adding incompetence of a defence counsel was no ground to recall witnesses under the law.