NEW DELHI – Tuesday, an Indian Uber driver was convicted of raping a young female passenger. This high profile case has sparked fresh safety fears in a city plagued by sexual violence.
Uber has been banned from operating in Delhi in the aftermath of the December 5 attack, although the ban has not been totally enforced. This has sparked accusations that Uber does not adequately conduct background checks.
Delhi Court found Shiv Kumar Yadav guilty of raping the 25-year-old woman as she was dropped off at her home after a dinner with friends in the Indian capital.
“He has been convicted and found to be guilty for all charges against him, which includes rape,” public prosecutor Atul Shrivastaa told AFP after the verdict was delivered.
Shiv Kumar Yadav will be sentenced on October 23 after being convicted on the four charges of rape, abduction, intimidation, and causing harm.
“The court has convicted him for all the sections for which he was charged,” defense layer Dharmender Kumar Mishra told reports outside the court.
It was also revealed in the investigation after the attack that Yadav had been accused of assaulting other women, although he had no previous convictions.
Yadav was tried by one of the special fast-track courts introduced in 2013 following the fatal gang-rape of a student on a bus in Delhi. This was a crime that shocked the national and sparked angry protests about India’s treatment of women.
The Uber rape occurred days before the second anniversary of that now notorious attack that gave Delhi the title of India’s “rape capital”, and brought the issue of violence against women to the spotlight.
The victim in the December 5 attack, who cannot be named, said she had dozed off in a taxi while returning home from dinner with friends.
She told police she woke to find the taxi parked in a secluded place where the driver assaulted and raped her. He then dumped her near her home in north Delhi.
– ‘Brought to justice’ –
Uber has resumed operations in the capital earlier this year despite the ban, said it had learned lessons from the case and has made improvement to its checks and customer support.
“Sexual assault is a terrible crime and we’re pleased he has now been brought to justice,” said Amit Jain, Uber India president, in a statement on the verdict.
The California-based startup’s rapid international growth has sparked tensions in several countries with rival taxi companies protesting that Uber cars are not subject to the same regulations as taxis.
Uber set up its India operation in September 2013, and now works in and around a dozen Indian cities.
The company and its Indian rival Ola applied for formal licenses to operate as radio taxi companies after they were banned from operating in December.
Authorities in Delhi rejected Uber’s application saying it had failed to comply with requirements for a license. Authorities claim that Uber does not have a GPS system to track its taxis and police-verified badges for its drivers.
But this month the national government published new guidelines for web-based ride-hailing firms, a move seen as a boost for Uber and Ola’s battle for legal status and license approvals.