New Delhi: The sensational Uber cab rape case needs to be fast-tracked, the Supreme Court has said, disapproving the Delhi High Court's view that the accused and not the victim will suffer by the delay in allowing the recall of prosecution witnesses.
"It may be proper to recall that the present case is in the category of cases where the trial is required to be fast tracked," a bench of Justices J S Khehar and Adarsh Kumar Goel said while giving 10 grounds to reject the reasons given by the High Court to allow the accused to recall an re-examine 13 prosecution witnesses, including the victim, in the case.
The incident had taken place on the night of December 5 last year when the victim, who was working for a finance firm in Gurgaon, was headed back home.
While delivering its judgement, the bench said, "The Court has to keep in mind not only the need for giving fair opportunity to the accused but also the need for ensuring that the victim of the crime is not unduly harassed."
"Witnesses cannot be expected to face the hardship of appearing in court repeatedly, particularly in sensitive cases such as the present one. It can result in undue hardship for victims, especially so of heinous crimes, if they are required to repeatedly appear in court to face cross-examination," the bench said.
Maintaining that expeditious trial in a heinous offence as is alleged in the present case was in the interest of justice, the bench said "mere fact that the accused was in custody and that he will suffer by the delay could be no consideration for allowing recall of witnesses, particularly at the fag end of the trial."
The apex court said the High Court in its March 10 order, has not rejected the reasons given by the trial court nor given any justification for permitting recall of the witnesses except for making general observations that recall was necessary for ensuring fair trial.
"This observation is contrary to the reasoning of the High Court in dealing with the grounds for recall, i.E., denial of fair opportunity on account of incompetence of earlier counsel or on account of expeditious proceedings," it said.