Court spares Mumbai woman driver from jail because she’s a ‘woman’

A Mumbai metropolitan court found Dr. Lajja Shah, a speech therapist associated with the HN Reliance Hospital, guilty of knocking down and killing a woman. On the 25th of May 2015, Dr. Shah was behind the wheel of a Toyota Innova MPV, when she knocked down a motorcycle that had two siblings – Akash and Jyoti Singh – on it. While 22 year old Akash escaped with his life, his 25 year old sister Jyoti succumbed to her injuries.

So, what’s the outrage about?

Speech Therapist Innova Accident

While Metropolitan Magistrate VR Dasari held Dr. Shah guilty of the accident, he went easy on the sentencing in his judgment stating that the accused was a doctor and a woman, which is why he’s letting her off with a fine of Rs. 72,500. This is causing massive social media outrage.

Here’s what Magistrate VR Dasari ruled last week,

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.  

However, the magistrate also rejected the accused lawyer’s (GS Vaidya) argument that the siblings were to blame for the accident as Akash (the bike rider) was dangerously cutting through heavy traffic on the motorcycle. The lawyer argued that the bike was ridden rashly as the siblings were in a hurry to get to their workplace.

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 incident, the Innova was certainly in a high speed. 

Interestingly, Dr. Shah’s driver, Mandal, was present in the Innova at the time of the accident. However, his testimony supporting the account of his employer, Dr. Shah, was rejected by the judge as it appeared to serve his employer. Dr. Shah’s lawyer GS Vaidya has stated that he’s going to a higher court with an appeal against his client’s conviction.

An earlier account of the accident

Toyota Innova Speech Therapist Accident

According to a report on the DNA, a couple of days after the incident occurred, senior police inspector Suresh Hujband of DB Marg police had this to say,

Shah got down from her vehicle, introduced herself as a doctor, and rushed Komal (Jyoti) to a nearby dispensary. She was then transferred to Bhatia Hospital where she died. Komal (Jyoti) had also sustained severe internal bleeding in the chest. The woman (Dr. Shah) normally takes over the wheel and the driver sits besides her when she returns home from the hospital. 

The DB Marg police station was where Dr. Shah was booked for causing death due to rash and negligent driving. Back then, the cops reportedly didn’t find the need to arrest her as the offence was bailable.

What were the charges against Dr. Shah?

Indian Penal Code sections 279 (rash driving), 304 A (causing death by negligence), and 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others). Under section 304 A, a judge can sentence the guilty party with 2 years prison, or a fine, or both.

Via TheTimesOfIndia and the DNA