New Delhi: Rapes have been on the rise despite stringent new laws on sexual offences against women, the Delhi High Court has observed while upholding the life sentence given to an Uber driver for raping a 25-year-old executive in the cab in 2014.
A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel noted that the statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau for 2016 show that 38,947 women were raped that year.
"In other words, nearly five rapes were committed every hour in that year (2016)!," the bench said in its judgement passed recently.
The incident had taken place on the night of December 5, 2014 when the victim, a finance executive working in Gurgaon, was returning home in Inderlok in Central Delhi.
The driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav, was arrested two days later on December 7 from Mathura and has been in jail since then.
The high court affirmed the conviction and sentence handed down to the driver by the trial court for causing grievous bodily harm or endangering life of a woman while raping her. It refused to show any leniency to him.
"Despite his previous criminal record of being involved, amongst others, in cases punishable under Section 376 (rape) IPC, the appellant (Yadav) does not appear to have learnt anything from those experiences," said the bench.
"While one of the cases against him under Section 376 IPC ended in his acquittal, there is at least one other case involving the same offence pending against him. Given the track record of Yadav and the extreme physical and mental trauma suffered by the victim, there is absolutely no scope for any leniency as far as the sentence is concerned," it said, dismissing his appeal challenging the trial court's verdict.
The court also noted that "instances of rape have been on the rise, notwithstanding more stringent provisions being inserted in the IPC post 16th December 2012. Section 376 (2) (m) IPC came into force pursuant to the recommendations on changes to the IPC made by the Justice Verma Committee."
The trial court had on November 3, 2015 gave the jail term to the driver who was convicted for the offences under sections 376(2)(m) (while committing rape causes grievous bodily harm or disfigures or endangers life of a woman), 366 (abducting with an intent to compel her for marriage), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 323 (causing hurt) of IPC.
The bench, in its verdict, noted that as the man had threatened the woman with bodily harm with an iron road, if she made any noise, she must have been in a state of panic.
"In the considered view of the court, the key ingredient of Section 376 (2) (m) IPC, viz. that the perpetrator must endanger the victim's life, is satisfied in the facts and circumstances of the present case. The court concurs with the trial court that the offence... stands attracted in the present case," it said.
The woman had told the trial court that on the day of the incident, after finishing her office work she had gone to Gurgaon for a party with friends and had booked an Uber cab for returning home.
She boarded the cab, which was being driven by the driver, from Vasant Vihar area and fell asleep.
She had told the trial court that when she woke up she found the driver was also sitting on the back seat and when she tried to raise an alarm, he slapped her repeatedly and threatened to insert a rod while reminding her of December 16, 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case.
The woman had said that the car was stopped at a secluded place and the driver raped her and dropped her home.