Lajja Shah, Mumbai based speech therapist who crashed and killed one, spared jail because ‘she is a woman and a doctor ‘

Uddipta Das
The prosecution reportedly examined seven witnesses to prove Shah's guilt, including Akash Singh, brother of the deceased and Shah's driver, who was reportedly with her during the accident.

Mumbai, April 28: A Mumbai based speech therapist, Lajja Shah, whose speeding car crashed into a motorcycle and killed one person, near Girgaum Chowpatty in 2015 has been spared jail time because of her gender and profession. The court instead deemed a penalty as the appropriate punishment for the speech therapist, for the offences which is generally punishable with imprisonment for two years or fine or both.

A metropolitan magistrate fined Shah Rs. 72, 500 for the offence and stated that the magistrate was of the view that instead of sentencing her to imprisonment, a fine may be imposed. The car Shah was driving hit the motorcycle which was carrying Akash Singh, a 22-year old and his 25-year old sister Jyoti. Reportedly, due to the impact, both fell and Jyoti came under the wheels of Shah’s car and succumbed to her injuries.

Magistrate VR Dasari, who was judging the case was quoted by Mumbai Mirror, saying “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.”  But this raises question if law can be lenient to such reasoning as the magistrate gave?

Shah was charged 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. Shah reportedly did not spend any time in police custody. Under section 304A, a person can be imprisoned for up to two years or imposed fine, or both.

The prosecution reportedly examined seven witnesses to prove Shah’s guilt. Included among these witnesses was Akash Singh, brother of the deceased and Shah’s driver, who was reportedly with her during the accident.

Initially, Shah’s lawyer, GS Vaidya argued that it was Akash and victim Jyoti who was to be blamed for the crash, but the magistrate rejected this claim citing the damage to the Innova and said that tyre brake marks and other evidences shows that Shah’s car was indeed at a high speed during the time of the incident. However, Vaidya said that they would challenge this conviction as the judgement was bad in law.