A former driver for the ride-sharing service Uber was convicted by a Delhi court on Tuesday of raping a female passenger last year.
The former driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav, was also convicted of kidnapping, in addition to rape while endangering the life of a woman, for an assault in New Delhi in December on a 26-year-old passenger who said she had fallen asleep in his vehicle and woken up in a secluded location with Mr. Yadav beside her in the back seat. A sentencing hearing is expected on Friday, and Mr. Yadav faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
“Obviously we will be asking for that,” the public prosecutor in the case, Atul Srivastava, told the Indian news channel NDTV.
The “Uber rape case,” as it became known in Delhi, elicited widespread concern over the dangers of ride-hailing services in a country like India, where there have been a number of prominent rape cases in recent years, and in cities like New Delhi, where women have difficulty finding safe transport after dark.
The government banned Uber in the Delhi region after the case came to light, but Uber and other ride-hailing services resumed operating in what the company has called “regulatory ambiguity.”
The criminal case against Mr. Yadav was delayed in March when the Delhi high court granted Mr. Yadav’s appeal calling for 13 witnesses, including the victim, to be re-examined. But the Supreme Court immediately stayed that order, then struck it down in September, the Press Trust of India reported.
The victim withdrew a lawsuit against Uber in California in September.
When the episode in December occurred, Mr. Yadav was free on bail in connection with at least three other serious criminal cases, including one of rape, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, and his employment by Uber drew sharp public criticism of the company, which was accused of not doing enough to ensure the safety of its passengers. The Delhi police are investigating whether Uber was criminally negligent in the December case, a senior police official, Brijendra Kumar Yadav, said on Tuesday.
In January, Uber announced that it would institute background checks in India. In a statement on Tuesday, the president of Uber India, Amit Jain, hailed the verdict against Mr. Yadav.
“Sexual assault is a terrible crime, and we’re pleased he has now been brought to justice,” Mr. Jain said in the statement, drawing attention to Uber’s enhanced background checks and new technology as “a result of the lessons we learned from this awful case.”
Mr. Yadav’s trial began and concluded in less than a year, a relatively quick period for a rape case in India, which can languish in criminal and legal proceedings for years. More than 85 percent of rape cases in India were pending trial at the end of 2014, according to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, and rape cases had a conviction rate of less than one-third. NY Times