Shiv Kumar Yadav, a former taxi driver with Uber from New Delhi, India, has been convicted for raping a female passenger. According to Reuters, Yadav was arrested in December 2014 after he assaulted and raped a 25-year-old passenger who had hired an Uber cab from her workplace. The 32-year-old Shiv Kumar, instead of dropping her home, sexually assaulted the woman and raped her. In her statement to the investigating officials, the woman revealed that she fell asleep during the trip and Yadav, taking advantage of this, drove her to an isolated area and then raped her.
After he was arrested, Yadav pleaded not guilty to the charges he faced. However, a court has found him guilty of the crime, and he has been convicted of rape, criminal intimidation, endangering a woman’s life, and kidnapping. According to Judge Kaveri Baweja, who convicted Yadav, he would serve something known as a “regressive imprisonment” which means he would spend the rest of his life in prison — until natural death occurs. The life sentence is the maximum punishment that the Indian Penal Code prescribes for rape in the country, an Al Jazeera report added. Yadav has also been fined Rs.21,000 (USD 320).
Before the sentencing, the prosecutor, Atul Shrivastava, appearing on behalf of the victim, requested the courtroom to dole out the maximum possible sentence for Yadav. He told the courtroom to ensure that Yadav’s sentencing should send a clear message to other potential rapists and act as deterrence so that “a person cannot even think of committing such an offense.” The rape victim also filed lawsuit against Uber in a U.S. Court which was later settled out of court. Meanwhile, Shiv Kumar Yadav’s lawyer has revealed that he will appeal against the conviction in a higher court and claimed that Yadav was innocent.
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Uber did not respond to specific questions regarding the sentencing of Shiv Kumar Yadav and told Newsweek that they stand by their old statement. Uber India did, however, make a statement through the company’s India President, Amit Jain, who said,
“Sexual assault is a terrible crime, and we’re pleased [Yadav] has now been brought to justice.”
He further added,
“Safety is a priority for Uber, and we’ve made many improvements—in terms of new technology, enhanced background checks and better 24/7 customer support—as a result of the lessons we learned from this awful case.”
Following the 2014 rape incident involving Shiv Kumar Yadav, there was a huge outcry in India against Uber and other similar services, eventually resulting in a ban on these services. Uber faced severe criticism from the government and users alike after it was eventually revealed that Shiv Kumar Yadav was amalgamated into the Uber eco-system even after he had a criminal record. Yadav had managed to conceal his background using forged documents, but it is alleged that Uber could have done more to ensure that people like Yadav were never inducted into the system. Following the incident and the backlash, Uber claimed they implemented stricter background checks and verifications. However, just a few months later, another case of sexual assault by an Uber driver was reported, again in New Delhi.
Uber continues to operate in Delhi and several other cities across India but is continually in the news owing to one controversy after another. More recently, Uber launched a signature campaign against the Maharashtra State government which is planning to bring in a new legislation that would affect cab services like Uber. In the southern Indian city of Kochi, Uber is facing problems from leftist political parties who claim that the arrival of Uber has adversely affected the revenue and livelihood of several taxi drivers in the state of Kerala.
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