SINGAPORE - A housewife was acquitted of maid abuse on Wednesday (Feb 27) after the judge felt that the domestic helper was "prone to exaggeration" in her complaints against her employers.
District Judge Kenneth Yap, who made the decision after a nine-day trial, also said the maid, Indian national Rajinder Kaur, 28, had "demonstrated a lack of intention to work in Singapore from the start".
Her then-employer, Madam Singh Manu, 43, who is also from India, had been accused of assaulting Ms Kaur on four occasions in January 2017 in her Jurong East apartment.
The purported acts of violence included hitting the maid's back twice, hitting her hand with a knife, pulling her hair and twisting her arm.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Yang Ziliang and Sheryl Yeo had earlier stated in their submissions that Ms Kaur was a truthful witness who had no reason to fabricate the acts of assault.
However, defence lawyer Amarjit Singh Sidhu said Ms Kaur, who is now back in India, had made the allegations, as she wanted to return home.
The lawyer from Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice also said she was " irresponsible as a domestic helper", who would at times leave the door to Madam Manu's apartment wide open and forget to turn off the gas switch.
In his brief grounds of decision, Judge Yap noted that in August 2016, Ms Kaur came to Singapore to work and take over her older sister's place as their family's breadwinner.
He added: "Rajinder did not seem to share this sentiment... Even after she arrived, she cried when she was brought to the accused's household.
"It required the combined efforts of her sister and the accused to calm her down and convince her to stay on."
The judge also said he found her accounts of the alleged assaults to lack clarity and "appear to be subject to exaggeration".
For instance, Ms Kaur testified during the trial that Madam Manu had slapped her back twice.
Judge Yap said she later changed her evidence to say that she was hit with a closed fist instead.
The judge also noted that Ms Kaur had given different accounts on how a knife was purportedly used to assault her.
He said: "Rajinder initially said that the sharp end of the knife came into contact with the top of her left hand and her skin had come off as a result."
She later told the court another version of events, stating that it was the flat side of the knife instead and the top part "grazed" her hand.
Judge Yap said a doctor who conducted a medical examination soon after did not record such an injury.
The judge added that when Ms Kaur asked for an advance of her salary, her employers complied "without fuss".
He said Ms Kaur was allowed to use her mobile phone, given her days off without restriction, and taken out for dinners, movies and picnics.
On Wednesday, Mr Singh told The Straits Times that Madam Manu is relieved this episode is over.
The lawyer added: "She wants to put this behind her so that all parties can move on."
Responding to queries from The Straits Times, the Attorney-General's Chambers said the prosecution has not decided on whether to appeal against Judge Yap's decision.