Housewife acquitted of abusing reluctant maid

A housewife was acquitted of maid abuse 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 on Wednesday that the maid, Indian national Rajinder Kaur, 28, had also "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 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 stated that Ms Kaur was a truthful witness who had no reason to fabricate the acts of assault. But 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 said she was "irresponsible as a domestic helper" who would at times leave the door to the 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 here to work and take over her older sister's place as the family's breadwinner.

He added: "Rajinder did not seem to share this sentiment... Even after she arrived, she cried... It required the combined efforts of her sister and the accused to calm her down and convince her to stay on."

The judge said he found her accounts of the alleged assaults to lack clarity and "appear to be subject to exaggeration".

For instance, Ms Kaur testified that Madam Manu had slapped her back twice. Judge Yap said she later changed her evidence to say she was hit with a closed fist instead.

He noted that Ms Kaur had given different accounts on how a knife was purportedly used. "Rajinder initially said 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 said it was the flat side of the knife and that the top part "grazed" her hand.

Judge Yap said a doctor who examined her soon after did not record such an injury.

On Wednesday, Madam Manu's lawyer told The Straits Times his client "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 the decision.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2019, with the headline 'Housewife acquitted of abusing reluctant maid'. Print Edition | Subscribe