Rajalakshmi Ramoo v Sulochana d/o T D Sakkrawarthi

CourtMagistrates' Court (Singapore)
JudgeAlvin Koh Meng Sing
Judgment Date15 September 2003
Neutral Citation[2003] SGMC 31
Citation[2003] SGMC 31
Published date01 October 2009
Plaintiff CounselThangavelu (Rajah Velu & Co)
Defendant CounselShankar (Rajah Velu & Co),N Kanagavijayan (Kana & Co)

1 The defendant, Sulochana d/o T.D. Sakkrawarthi (“Sulochana”), was charged on private summons before me on one charge under s 323 of the Penal Code (Chapter 224) and three charges under s 500 of the Penal Code. Sulochana claimed trial to all four charges. At the end of the trial, following submissions made by defence counsel, Mr Kana, I amended the second and third charge to stand as one charge: “P2A”. The charges are as follows:

1st Charge : “P1” (PSS 789 of 2002)

“You, Sulochana d/o T.D. Sakkrawarthi are charged that you on or about the 23rd of December 2001 about 9.00 am at Yishun market situated at Blk 292 Yishun Street 22, Singapore did voluntarily cause hurt to one Rajalakshmi Ramoo by hitting her with a sandal on the head and kicking her knee and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under section 323 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.”

Amended 2nd Charge : “P2A” (PSS 790 of 2002)

“You, Sulochana d/o T.D. Sakkrawarthi are charged that you on the 24th December 2001 at about 1.00pm to 3pm outside Tekka market situated at Buffalo Road did utter defamatory words to Rengasamy Kumaravelu and Angeline Malar d/o Govindarajah concerning Rajalakshmi Ramoo to wit by calling her a prostitute and that her children were all born from different men thereby intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such words will harm the reputation of Rajalakshmi Ramoo, and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 500 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.”

3rd Charge : “P4” (PSS 792 of 2002)

“You, Sulochana d/o T.D. Sakkrawarthi are charged that you on or about the 28th to 30th day of December 2001 did utter defamatory words to Margaret Jayamani @ Maygnam J Soloman over the telephone concerning Rajalakshmi Ramoo to wit by calling her a prostitute and that her children were all born from different men thereby intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such words will harm the reputation of Rajalakshmi Ramoo, and you have thereby committed an offence publishable under section 500 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.”

2 On the evidence, I found that the complainant, Rajalakshmi Ramoo (“Rajalakshmi”) had made out her case on the above mentioned three charges and I convicted Sulochana accordingly. On the first charge of voluntarily causing hurt, I sentenced Sulochana to one month’s imprisonment. On the two criminal defamation charges, I ordered her to be fined $2,000 on each charge. Sulochana appealed against conviction and sentence on all three charges. These are the reasons for my decision.

The case for the prosecution

3 The prosecution called a total of seven witnesses to the stand:

a) PW1: Rajalakshmi Ramoo, the complainant
b) PW2: Raveendran Vijayan (“Raveendran”), Sulochana’s estranged husband.
c) PW3: Dr Singam S.B (“Dr Singam”), Rajalakshmi’s examining doctor
d) PW4: Rengasamy Kumaravelu (“Kumaravelu”), Margaret’s husband
e) PW5: Margaret Jayamani (“Margaret”), Raveendran’s cousin
f) PW6: Angeline Malar (“Angeline”), Margaret and Kumaravelu’s daughter-in-law
g) PW7: Leena Rema Revendran (“Leena”), Raveendran’s sister

Testimony of PW1 – Rajalakshmi Ramoo (‘Rajalakshmi’)

4 Rajalakshmi, also known as “Lakshmi”, was Raveendran’s landlord up to the time of the trial. She has four children aged between 8 to 11 years.

5 On 23 December 2001, Rajalakshmi accompanied Raveendran to Marsiling to do some shopping. She later waited at a bus-stop while he delivered what he bought to his children, and they then proceeded to Yishun market. While they waited at the mutton stall, Sulochana appeared with Elbina and Valerine, approached her and started to verbally abuse her in a mix of English and Tamil. Sulochana accused Rajalakshmi of having slept with different men. A crowd soon gathered but Sulochana persisted in shouting at her and blocking her way, thus preventing her escape. Rajalakshmi testified that she was embarrassed by the shouting and accusations and could hardly say anything. Sulochana removed her 2½ inch high heeled sandal from her right foot, and used it to hit Rajalakshmi twice on the right side of her head. Sulochana then pushed her chest and used her right leg to kick Rajalakshmi’s right knee, whilst continually abusing her with vulgarities. Rajalakshmi could not shield herself as her hands were carrying bags of marketing. Sulochana further alleged that Rajalakshmi’s children were born from different men. Rajalakshmi cried and when a few people moved away, she managed to escape by walking away. Sulochana did not pursue her.

6 Subsequently, Rajalakshmi met Raveendran and asked him why he did not come to her assistance. Raveendran explained that this was because Sulochana had a “PPO” (“Personal Protection Order”) against him.

7 Rajalakshmi testified that her head was slightly swollen and she was not able to walk as her knee was painful and swollen. She explained that she had not gone to see a doctor immediately after the incident at Yishun market as Raveendran had begged her not to report the matter to the police or visit a doctor and asked her to leave the matter. At first, Rajalakshmi merely applied ointment on her right knee. However, on 7 January 2002, unable to bear with the pain any longer, Rajalakshmi went to Hougang Polyclinic. She complained about the pain on her head and her swollen right knee. She testified that the doctor felt the right side of her head and said that there was no longer much of a swell there anymore. She was prescribed with pain killers and an ointment (“P7”) to rub on her knee. Notably, “P7” was dated 7 January 2002.

8 On the criminal defamation charges, Rajalakshmi testified that she met Kumaravelu, Margaret and Angeline when they came to speak to Raveendran at her house on one occasion. They did not really speak much to her but stayed for about four hours. Rajalakshmi learnt that Sulochana had spoken to them and told them that she was “loose” and sleeping around and that all her children were born from different men. Rajalakshmi also found out from Margaret that Sulochana met Kumaravelu and Angeline at Tekka market. She obtained from them Margaret’s telephone number and subsequently she called her to make the same defamatory remarks to her.

Testimony of PW2 – Mr Raveendran Vijayan (‘Raveendran’)

9 Raveendran testified that he had been estranged from Sulochana for over three years and there was no possibility of reconciliation between them. He had lived as Rajalakshmi’s tenant for the last two years.

10 On 23 December 2001, Raveendran went to Marsiling market with Rajalakshmi to buy prawns. He made arrangements to hand the prawns to Valerine and Elbina and also told them that he would go to Yishun market to purchase chicken and mutton. He then went to pick Rajalakshmi up from at a nearby bus-stop where he left her as he knew that his wife had a jealous disposition and did not want to have problems with her.

11 Within ten minutes of their arrival at Yishun market, Sulochana, Elbina and Valerine appeared before them. Sulochana approached Raveendran and asked whether he had come with Rajalakshmi, referring to her as ‘this woman’. Raveendran told her to ask Rajalakshmi herself. A quarrel soon broke out between Rajalakshmi and Sulochana and Raveendran testified that it was Sulochana who started scolding vulgarities at Rajalakshmi and told her that all her four children were born of different men. Sulochana removed her right shoe and hit Rajalakshmi twice on the top of her head with it. She replaced her shoe and pushed Rajalakshmi twice. Sulochana then kicked her on her right leg.

12 Although Raveendran was concerned for Rajalakshmi’s safety, he did not dare intervene because he felt that Sulochana was trying to provoke and get him into trouble since she had a PPO against him. He denied that he had moved away when the quarrel broke out. In fact, Valereine who was standing nearby told him that what Sulochana was doing was ‘shameful’. Rajalakshmi appeared stunned and shocked and was unable to retaliate as she was carrying two red plastic bags of marketing in her hands. She limped away towards him and Raveendran told her to move to his taxi.

13 Rajalakshmi sat in Raveendran’s taxi in a state of shock, crying and complaining about the pain in her leg. Raveendran urged Rajalakshmi not to make a police report as he felt that Sulochana was still his wife and they had lived together for twenty years. He testified that he told Rajalakshmi to see a doctor but she refused saying that she would not know what to tell the doctor since he forbade her from making a police report.

14 A few days after Christmas, Margaret, Kumaravelu and Angeline visited him at Rajalakshmi’s flat. They told him that they had met Sulochana on 24 December 2001 and she had told them that she had beaten Rajalakshmi ‘properly’ at Yishun market. Kumaravelu narrated in detail what Sulochana told him about Rajalakshmi when they met at Tekka market. Margaret also told Raveendran that Sulochana had called her and told her that Rajalakshmi was a “bitch” and a “prostitute” who had slept with many men and that all her four children were from different men. Raveendran testified that Margaret scolded him for staying in an immoral woman’s house. The three left after spending three to five hours at the house.

Testimony of PW3 – Dr Singam S.B. (‘Dr Singam’)

15 Dr Singam is a medical officer attached with Hougang Polyclinic. She confirmed that Rajalakshmi came to the polyclinic on various dates, including 7 January 2002 and 24 January 2002 and tendered medical report “P6”. She stated that Rajalakshmi’s visit on 7 January 2002 was attended by her colleague, Dr Seah Chee Yong (“Dr Seah”), who examined Rajalakshmi and recorded in the medical notes that Rajalakshmi had complained of an injury to her right knee as a result of a kick and had been suffering from it for two weeks. Dr Singam testified that it appeared from Dr Seah’s medical notes that there was some slight tenderness in Rajalakshmi’s right...

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