New Delhi: Delhi High Court on Wednesday reserved its order on the plea of the accused in the Uber cab rape case for recall of prosecution witnesses and directed the trial court not to pronounce its verdict till then.
Justice Sunita Gupta said the order will be passed on March 4 on the plea of accused Shiv Kumar Yadav, who allegedly raped a 25-year-old woman in December last year, after the court concluded hearing arguments of both sides.
Yadav, through his lawyer D K Mishra had sought recall of the 28 prosecution witnesses on the ground that the earlier defence counsel was "incompetent".
Mishra later restricted the list of witnesses he wished to recall to 13, including the victim, who he alleged had improved upon her statements.
He also alleged that various crucial evidence, including DNA samples and sexual assault kits, had been planted and tampered with.
Advocate Rajesh Mahajan, appearing for Delhi Police, on other hand opposed the plea saying if it is allowed, it will amount to a re-trial.
He said that if the accused wanted to recall only a limited number of witnesses then he should have moved such a plea before the trial court.
Mahajan also said that its easier to find fault with the earlier counsel in hindsight and said that the strategy and focus of earlier defence lawyer may have been different.
He said if present plea is allowed, a third defence lawyer might come at a later stage and then there would be no end to it.
Yesterday, the high court had refused to stay the ongoing proceedings before a trial court here in the case after Mishra requested the bench that till his plea to recall witnesses to re-examine them is pending before it, the ongoing final arguments be stayed.
Mishra, who had challenged the trial court's February 18 order rejecting 32-year-old Yadav's plea for recalling witnesses, had contended that there were lot of discrepancies in the case for which cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses was necessary.
In the plea before the trial court, Yadav had sought to recall all the 28 prosecution witnesses on the ground that he was not given fair opportunity to defend himself.
However, the trial court had dismissed his plea saying there was no change in circumstances except for a change of counsel, which was no ground to allow the application.
Mishra had submitted that the entire cross-examination of all the prosecution witnesses conducted by the earlier counsel was "prejudicial to the interest of the accused.
He had said the prosecution had twisted the facts in such a manner that the accused before conclusion of the trial "gets convicted".
As per the charge sheet filed by the Delhi Police, the incident took place on the night of December 5 last year when the victim, who was working for a finance company in Gurgaon, was headed back home.
She had taken the taxi from Vasant Vihar to go to her house in Inderlok and the accused after taking another route, raped her, police said.
Yadav was arrested on December 7 from Mathura in a joint operation by Delhi and Uttar Pradesh police.
The trial in the case had commenced on January 15 and the prosecution had concluded recording its evidence in 17 days by examining 28 witnesses. The accused had not examined any witness in his defence.
The trial court had also recorded the testimony of the accused in which he termed the charge against him as "false".
The court on January 13 had framed charges against Yadav under various sections of the IPC for alleged offences of endangering a woman's life while raping her, kidnapping with an intent to compel her for marriage, criminally intimidating and causing hurt.