A Delhi court on Monday rejected the bail plea of 50-year-old Vandana Dhir, who was arrested for allegedly torturing her domestic help in upscale Vasant Kunj.
Metropolitan magistrate Gomati Manocha dismissed the bail plea and directed the jail authorities to provide psycho-analysis therapy and counselling to her. Dhir is in judicial custody at present.
The court said it seems Dhir is "suffering from some kind of a personality disorder and the facts of the case demonstrate very sick and problematic mental state of the accused".
Dhir and Dorothy, the owner of a south Delhi-based placement agency that sent her to the Vasant Kunj house, are in judicial custody and have been arrested.
Dhir, who was working with a multinational firm in Noida, has been accused of assaulting her domestic help, beating her and branding her with a hot girdle. The maid, who hails from Jharkhand, was also forced to drink her urine and was kept by Dhir in a semi-naked condition, the victim has claimed.
She was rescued by a joint team of NGO Shakti Vahini and Delhi Police from Dhir's residence on the evening of September 30 after neighbours found her shrieks intolerable and informed the cops.
The court said a legislation is much needed to regulate placement agencies through which domestic helps are recruited. Denying bail to Dhir, the court observed: "The placement agencies existing today have become havens of exploitation and are unable to ensure the wellbeing of the workforce employed through them and many young boys and girls become the subject of physical and sexual abuse."
"To bring about a positive change so that such incidents do not recur and also to protect basic human rights of this large but marginalised and exploited workforce, a legislation is much needed requiring mandatory registration of placement agencies, payment of minimum wages to workers, decent living conditions and diet, security and protection against physical or sexual abuse or exploitation," magistrate added.
The legislation should ensure that "no minors are employed as domestic maids", the court observed. "Thus, rather than curbing such employment opportunities altogether, these is a dire necessity of a legislation regulating functioning of these placement agencies and of an institutionalised system protecting the interests of both the employers and the employees. This shall also ensure that no underage (minor) boys and girls get employed as domestic helps," it added.
On Dhir's act, the court said: "She has exhibited through her actions such monstrosity incapable of being explained as a conduct of a normal human being." The magistrate added: "She seems to be suffering from some kind of a personality disorder which leads to impulsive reactions, rage, resentment, aggression and venting it out on a weak and helpless target."
"Sooner or later, the accused would come out of the jail. But before that, it is necessary that she receives proper psychological help so that when she comes out, she is emotionally more stable," the judge added.
The court lent credence to the maid's statement recorded by a magistrate in which she narrated the alleged torture meted out to her by Dhir.
Dismissing Dhir's bail plea, the judge also rejected the submissions of her counsel that the maid was mentally unsound and said the statement given by the girl before the magistrate and the statement of the doctor, who earlier treated the girl, strengthen the case of prosecution. Dhir deserved "no leniency" as she had allegedly treated the girl in a "gruesome and dastardly manner", the magistrate said.
The court said: "...the victim is socially and economically very weak and vulnerable as compared to that of the accused. Thus, it is important to rule out any chance of tampering with the evidence or of influencing the witnesses by the accused".