Minor maids: HC sets aside order against doctor couple
15th January 2020, 03:04 Hrs
the goan I network
The Bombay High Court at Goa has upheld an appeal filed by a doctor couple Zelio D’Mello and his wife Elaine who were convicted by the Children’s Court for allegedly keeping minor children as maids in their home without permission and having allegedly, on occasion, resorted to beating them.
While concluding that the Children’s Court has no jurisdiction to try the case, as it could not be conclusively proven that the two victims were below 14 years of age at the time of the incident, the High Court has left it open to the State to try the couple before a regular court.
The incident is dating back to the year 2004 and the Children’s Court had sentenced them to undergo simple imprisonment for a term of three years and to pay the fine of Rs one lakh each.
In its judgement, the High Court ruled that the contentions of the doctor couple that “the victim girls not being minors at the time of the alleged commission of the offences, the jurisdiction of the Children’s Court was flawed deserves to be accepted, wholeheartedly.”
“In the absence of any jurisdiction in the Children’s Court to deal with the case, it could not have conducted the trial and held the appellants guilty of the offences alleged against them and on that premise alone the judgment of conviction is liable to be quashed and set aside,” the High Court ruled.
The High Court also ruled that it was not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the two victim girls were ill-treated and harassed while they served
“On the merits of the case, it has been found that the prosecution has failed to establish that both the victim girls were subjected to ill-treatment, confinement and harassment at the hands of the appellants. On that basis too the case of the prosecution cannot be said to be proved beyond all reasonable doubt,” the High Court ruled.