Uber driver in India sentenced to life in prison for raping a passenger

Shiv Kumar Yadav is escorted by police after a court appearance in New Delhi on Dec. 8, 2014.

Shiv Kumar Yadav is escorted by police after a court appearance in New Delhi on Dec. 8, 2014.

(Chandan Khanna / AFP/Getty Images)

An Uber driver in New Delhi was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for raping a passenger in the Indian capital last December.

Shiv Kumar Yadav was convicted last month of the rape, kidnapping and criminal intimidation of a 25-year-old woman who used the taxi-hailing app to get a ride home from a dinner with friends.

Yadav was given the maximum punishment under the law by a special fast-track court established to deal with rape cases, one of the reforms India instituted in recent years in response to a national outcry over a series of high-profile sexual-assault incidents.


Yadav had been driving with Uber, the San Francisco-based taxi service, for about six months when he picked the victim up from a restaurant and drove her to a secluded area near her home after she dozed off in the car, according to accounts in Indian news media.

He then sexually assaulted her and threatened to insert an iron rod into her body if she told police, prosecutors said. The woman took a photo of the car’s license plate with her cellphone and shared it with police, who arrested Yadav two days later.

The incident prompted New Delhi authorities to temporarily ban Uber and other taxi apps, accusing them of failing to adequately vet their drivers. The company’s India office says it has since implemented more stringent background checks and around-the-clock customer support.

“Sexual assault is a terrible crime and we are pleased he has now been brought to justice,” Amit Jain, president of Uber India, said after Yadav’s conviction.

Uber has said it plans to invest $1 billion in its operations in India, which along with China represents the company’s biggest potential growth markets outside the United States. But the company has run into obstacles here, including protests from entrenched taxi unions that have allegedly attacked Uber drivers and damaged their cars.

Mumbai, India’s financial capital, recently proposed new taxi laws that Uber says would harm its business, including higher fares and a cap on vehicles that app-based taxi companies can employ. The company says the goal of the regulations is “protecting the taxi industry from new, innovative technologies like Uber.”