April 28th, 2017
A speech therapist from Mumbai’s Marine Drive area has been spared prison time by a Court because of her gender and profession.
Lajja Shah’s speeding car had killed a woman riding a motorcycle’s passenger seat near Girgaum Chowpatty in 2015.
Shah, who is associated with Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, had slammed her Toyota Innova into the bike, knocking down 22-year-old Akash Singh and his sister, Jyoti, who was riding pillion. Jyoti, 25, came under the front wheel of the car and later succumbed to her injuries.
However, a metropolitan magistrate only fined Lajja Shah to the amount of Rs 72,500 for offences that could have also attracted a jail term of up to two years.
“The accused is a woman and a doctor by profession, so I am of the view that instead of sentencing her to imprisonment, a fine may be imposed,” the magistrate, VR Dasari, ruled last week, reported the Mumbai Mirror.
Shah was held guilty under sections 279 (rash driving), 304A (causing death by negligence), and 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). But being an audiologist, she was cleared of jail time.
The most serious charge she faced was causing death by negligence under Section 304A of the IPC. Under this, the Court could have sentenced her to prison for up to two years or imposed a fine, or order both.
The prosecution, led by CY Patil, examined seven witnesses to prove Shah’s guilt, including Akash, who was injured in the accident, and Shah’s driver, who was with her at the time of the collision. The Court had rejected the testimony of the driver as it appeared to serve his employer.
The defence argued that the victims, Akash and Jyoti, should be blamed for the accident, and not Shah. The siblings were in a hurry to reach their workplace, he claimed and added that Akash tried to dangerously cut through heavy traffic on his motorcycle.
Citing the pattern of damage to the Innova, the magistrate, however, rejected the claim, “The tyre brake marks of the Innova were present on the spot to the extent of 10 to 15 feet at its backside. This shows that at the time of the incident, the Innova was certainly in a high speed.” Dasari ruled.
Jyoti was taken to the Bhatia Hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries. Prior to that, she told her another brother of not being able to see through her eyes.
Shah’s lawyer, GS Vaidya, said on Thursday that the defense would challenge the conviction. “This judgement is bad in law and we are going to file an appeal against the conviction,” he said.
The Logical Indian finds the Court’s order appalling as punishment should always fit the crime. Though the magistrate found Lajja Shah guilty on three accounts, including causing death by negligence, the punishment imposed on her is unfair, and the reason biased. Her gender and profession should not have played a role in deciding the degree of penalty.