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Maid death from washing-machine electrocution

Our Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 8: The Supreme Court today upheld the quashing of a criminal case against a Kerala couple over the death of their help who died at their home from washing-machine electrocution, saying the unfortunate death was not caused by any negligence of the employers.

The court however, directed the couple, one Joseph and his wife, to pay Rs 1 lakh to the family of the maid on humanitarian grounds. The compensation would be in addition to the Rs 1 lakh announced at the time of her death in 2005 by the Kerala government under the chief minister's distress relief fund.

A three-judge bench of Justices T.S. Thakur, Kurien Joseph and R. Banumathi passed the judgment while disposing of an appeal by Rajan, husband of the deceased help Ammini, against a 2013 Kerala High Court ruling quashing a magistrate's order to register a case against the employers under Section 304A IPC (causing death due to rash and negligent action). This is punishable with up to two years in jail.

Ammini, who was working for more than five years in the house, suffered the shock while working on a washing machine. The apex court said: "To prove the charge under Section 304A IPC, it is necessary to establish the guilt of respondents No.1 & 2 (couple) i.e. the accused, acted in a negligent manner in not taking reasonable care of their washing machine and caused the death of deceased-Ammini due to electric shock."

The court noted that in the present case, the report of the power department inspector had stated that there was no possibility of current leak in the washing machine.

The inspector had also said that the maid might have tried to turn on and off the switch by mistake with wet hands and come into contact with the live portion behind the plug and died from electric shock.

Further, it could be deduced from the certificate issued by the hospital that the couple had immediately rushed the maid there to save her life but she was declared dead on arrival, the court said.

"Considering the materials on record, we concur with the views expressed by the high court that no offence under Section 304A IPC is made out and in our view, the high court has rightly quashed the proceedings initiated before the JMFC (magistrate)," the apex court added.

The judges ordered the extra compensation saying that as "the deceased belonged to a lower strata of the society, in the interest of justice, in exercise of our extra ordinary jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, we deem it appropriate to direct the respondents No.1 & 2 (the couple) also to pay compensation to the appellant".

"As decided by the state government, the state of Kerala shall pay an amount of Rs 1,00,000/- from Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund to the appellant. Additionally, the respondents No. 1 & 2 (the employers) shall pay a compensation of Rs.1,00,000/- to the appellant within a period of four weeks from today," the bench said in a judgment.



In this case we can surely say Earth leakage circuit breaker is not installed in this house. If ELCB is there it will cut the circuit when the current pass through the body to earth. The house maid would survive.

Use separate and very efficient earth for dishwasher and washing machine. Earth should be maintain every 3 or 5 years, depends on earthing method. Our earthing method will give you maintenance free up to 10 years.

You can consider remote switches for washing area or service area, or use weatherproof switch and sockets. Visite for house plans or more support at www.DesignWiring.in





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Electrical Hazard






Washing machine shock