Employer acquitted of abusing maid who wanted to return to India

·Senior Reporter
Singapore’s State Courts (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
Singapore’s State Courts (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

An employer accused of assaulting her domestic helper by twisting her arm, slapping her, and pulling her hair was acquitted of the offences on Wednesday (27 February), following a 12-day trial.

Singh Manu, a 43-year-old Indian national, was found not guilty of four charges of voluntarily causing hurt to her compatriot Rajinder Singh, who hails from Punjab, India.

She first hired Rajinder, now 28, in August 2016 on the recommendation of a friend and Rajinder’s sister.

In delivering the verdict, District Judge Kenneth Yap said, “(Manu) and the husband came across as measured individuals who had treated their domestic worker with a fair measure of generosity.”

“By contrast (Rajinder) had demonstrated a lack of intention to work in Singapore from the start, and was prone to exaggeration in both general complaints against her employers, as well as the specific allegations made in relation to the charges.”

The facts of the case

Manu had been charged for four occasions of violence against Rajinder in January 2017.

On one occasion, Manu allegedly brought Rajinder to clean her new apartment when the maid forgot to bring the equipment needed. Upset, Manu supposedly hit Rajinder twice on her back.

Separately, when Rajinder failed to move a heavy dryer, Manu allegedly pulled her hair, twisted her arm and slapped her cheek once. A week after this incident, Manu allegedly hit Rajinder with a knife and twisted her arm after the maid failed to heat up milk and wake Manu’s two daughters.

Three days later, Manu allegedly scolded the helper for not tying her hair into a bun before pulling Rajinder’s hair, pushing her throat, grabbing her arms and throwing her onto the bed. Manu was also accused of slapping the maid’s left hand. Rajinder was spurred to call the police on her own mobile phone after this alleged incident.

During the trial, which began last year, Manu’s lawyer, Amarjit Singh from Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice denied the offences, arguing that Rajinder had made the accusations as she wanted to return to her home country.

According to the defence lawyer, Rajinder had not wanted the responsibility of providing for her family back home by working in Singapore. The burden had fallen to the maid when her eldest sister, who worked in Singapore, wanted Rajinder to work in the Republic so that she could return to India to get married.

The final verdict

In delivering the verdict, DJ Yap pointed out the inconsistencies in Rajinder’s testimony which called her allegations into question.

The judge also took Rajinder’s “lack of maturity” as a factor when he considered her testimony.

He pointed out an incident where the maid was seen playing with Manu’s two children instead of setting up picnic mats and food during the family’s picnic outing. Rajinder’s second sister had to remind Rajinder that she should be assisting her employers rather than playing.

Rajinder would also leave the door to her employer’s apartment wide open, did not lock the door properly and forget to switch off the gas. According to defence lawyer Amarjit, Rajinder’s eldest sister had testified in court that her sister was “lazy and irresponsible”.

“It must be against this context which the quality of (Rajinder’s) account must be assessed. In this respect, I found her account of the assault to lack clarity and to appear to be subject to exaggeration,” said DJ Yap.

The judge also pointed out the discrepancies in Rajinder’s testimony, including how the maid had changed her evidence to say that Manu hit her back with a closed fist. The maid had originally claimed on the stand that Manu slapped her back.

Noting that the passage of time between the alleged incidents and the trial may have resulted in some incorrect recollection of events, DJ Yap said, “the deficiencies in (Rajinder’s) statements are numerous and taken as a whole, do call into question large tracts of her allegations.”

The judge also dismissed a medical report which diagnosed Rajinder with a bruise on her scalp and tenderness in her neck and arms, noting that the the injury could have been self-inflicted to justify Rajinder’s desire to return home.

DJ Yap added, “Rajinder did not seem to share this sentiment (of being her family’s breadwinner). From the get-go, she had missed her intended flight due to the lack of documentation. Her sister Baljinder had to purchase another air ticket for her to make her journey to Singapore.”

Even after she arrived, she cried when she was brought to (Manu’s) household. It required the combined efforts of her sister and (Manu) to clam her down and to convince her to stay on.”

More Singapore stories

Singaporean woman admits to abusing maid, fracturing nose

Woman hospitalized after heavy glass door gets dislodged and falls on her

Record number of contraband cases seen at checkpoints in 2018: ICA

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting