An Indian court sentenced a former Uber driver to life in prison on Tuesday, marking an end to a rape case that led to the private car service being temporarily banned in the country and renewed concerns over women's safety in India's capital New Delhi.
The driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav, received the harshest sentence possible under Indian law for his crime. He was convicted last month of rape, kidnapping, and criminal intimidation.
"We are happy that justice has been delivered and that the process didn't take that long," Madhur Verma, deputy commissioner of the Delhi police, told Reuters.
Last December, a female passenger accused Yadav of raping her while she was on her way home. The passenger, who worked for an international accounting firm, said she fell asleep and woke up with the taxi parked in a secluded area. She said that Yadav raped her, then dropped her off at her home.
Yadav's lawyer, D.K. Mishra, said he would appeal the sentence, telling reporters that his client was innocent.
Following Yadav's arrest, New Delhi's government banned Uber from operating in the city, saying the company had failed to conduct adequate safety checks. An investigation later showed that Yadav used fake references to apply for his job with Uber. He had a criminal record, including at least one accusation of rape.
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In response to the case, Uber said it would strengthen its security and background checks.
The New Delhi government lifted the sporadically-enforced ban on Uber this July, allowing the company to legally operate while it applied for a license from the city's transport department, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Uber case again highlighted the problems surrounding women's safety in India, and in New Delhi in particular.
In 2012, a young woman was brutally gang raped and murdered on a bus in New Delhi, sparking protests and international outcry over the government's handling of the case. The Indian government has since established fast-track courts that deal solely with sexual assault, and made it possible for repeat offenders to be sentenced to death. Yet despite these new measures, the number of rape cases is still on the rise.
In 2014, India's National Crime Records Bureau reported that the number of rapes in the country increased by 9 percent from last year. New Delhi reported 1,813 rape cases — the most out of any city in India, prompting some local news outlets to call it India's "rape capital." Last month, two children were raped in separate incidents in New Delhi.
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