NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today slammed the accused in the Uber cab rape case, saying he was trying to "destroy criminal justice system" by seeking re-examination of the victim who has only been "embarrassed and insulted" by him in her earlier deposition.
The bench headed by Justice J S Khehar came hard on the accused while reserving verdict on two pleas of Delhi police and the victim against a Delhi High Court decision allowing the accused cab driver to recall 13 prosecution witnesses, including the girl in the trial.
"You are, in a way, trying to destroy the criminal justice system of this country. You are saying that let this person sit on our head. You are trying to say that the criminal should be honoured and he should get everything which he wants," the bench, also comprising Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, said.
"Don't play fool with us. We are used to counsel. We are used with the jugglery of words," it said at the fag end of the day and asked the counsel for accused to show one "good" ground for recall of witnesses including the girl.
The bench may also lay down guidelines as to whether an accused has right to get witnesses recalled for re-examination in a criminal trial.
Referring to trial court records, the bench said, "You are asking totally irrelevant and nonsense questions in the cross-examination."
"So far as the occurrence of crime is concerned, in the three days of the cross-examination, there was no relevant questions were asked by you," the bench, also comprising Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, said.
The prosecutrix gave a "perfect answer" to question asked about the cab's picture taken by her and "For three days you only embarrassed her. You only insulted her," it said.
"We feel you have all nonsense at your hand. For three days what you did except to humiliate the prosecutrix who made the allegations," the bench said the counsel for accused "wasted three days to come to the most crucial questions "related to the offence.
"All your questions doesn't matter to the crime. Whether she spoke to her mother before making complaint does not matter here," the bench said.
During the day-long hearing, the apex court also raised questions on move of accused Shiv Kumar Yadav to seek recall of witnesses including the victim and said that this man is "master" in playing legal tricks.
The meticulous planning done by accused is usually unheard of a person like him, it said.
Despite being a judge of the Supreme Court, such ideas don't strike us, one of the judges said, while referring to the steps taken by the accused to prolong the trial and demolish the case of the prosecution.
Referring to the change of defence lawyers and the move to seek recall of witnesses, the bench said that it seemed that the accused is getting "perfect" legal advice in the case.
The delay of several months in the trial has led to unnecessary harassment of the victim as it is very traumatic experience for her to come and depose again and again, it said, adding that the accused has "misused" the process of law.
At the outset, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Delhi police, opposed the plea of accused that he was rightly allowed by the High Court to recall the witnesses.
He said the accused cannot seek this on the pretext that his lawyer was a "novice" as he has been familiar with court proceedings.
"We have to weigh both sides. If we say that incompetency of a lawyer is a ground to recall witnesses then a lot of similar cases will come to us.
"If we do not do this, then it may cause injustice to some of the accused. So we will have to weigh both the sides," the bench said.
Rohatgi then said, "This accused has faced criminal trials earlier. There are three rape cases including the present one against him and in addition to these, there are several other cases in UP. "The idea is to show that the accused is familiar with the court proceedings."
The first FIR against this man was lodged way back in 2001 and he has been acquitted in one of the rape cases, the AG said.
Earlier, the court had said that it will lay down a law as to whether an accused has got the right to get witnesses recalled for their re-examination in a criminal case.
Prior to this, on two different dates, the apex court had issued notice to the accused on the petitions of the 25-year-old victim and Delhi Police, respectively.
On the victim's plea on March 10, the apex court had stayed the high court order as well as trial court proceedings and restrained media from reporting statements of witnesses which have been recorded after the high court's order.
The victim, in her appeal, had said that the high court order amounted to re-trial of the case.
On March 4, the Delhi High Court had allowed recall of 13 prosecution witnesses, including the victim in the case, on the plea of Yadav and said their cross examination will be carried out on a day-to-day basis.
The high court had partly allowed the plea of the accused cab driver while making it clear "not to repeat any question which has already been put to the witnesses in their cross examination by the earlier counsel".
Apart from the victim, the court had also allowed recall of investigating officers as well as some doctors who had examined the victim and the accused.
The victim was partly re-examined in the trial court in an in-camera proceeding by the counsel for Yadav.
As per the police charge sheet, the incident took 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.
She had taken the taxi from Vasant Vihar in south-west Delhi to go to her house in Inderlok and the accused, after taking another route, had raped her, police said.
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 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 intent to compel her for marriage, criminally intimidating and causing hurt.