Suchana Seth, the 39-year-old CEO of an AI startup based in Bengaluru, was arrested on Monday night, January 8 for allegedly murdering her four-year-old son at a service apartment in Goa. The arrest took place in Karnataka’s Chitradurga district, where Seth was arrested while attempting to flee in a cab with her son's body concealed in a bag.
Who is Suchana Seth?
Suchana Seth, as per her LinkedIn profile, is an AI ethics expert and data scientist with more than 12 years of experience in mentoring data science teams and scaling machine learning solutions at startups. She is the founder of The Mindful AI Lab, a Bengaluru-based technical consultancy that specialises in providing customised AI ethics advisory services, auditing AI systems and data practices, and co-creating responsible AI roadmaps for organisations at all stages of data maturity.
Police investigations have also revealed that Suchana Seth is a director at Saatvik Machine Intelligence Technologies Private Limited, a firm registered in September 2020 that remains active.
Suchana’s estranged husband, Venkataraman PR, holds a PhD in Physics and is a data scientist, serving as a top executive with a financial services firm. According to Indian Express, the couple had been embroiled in legal matters, including a domestic violence case filed by Suchana against her husband on August 8, 2022. This legal battle was part of divorce proceedings and a custody dispute over their son.
Suchana has also been a fellow (2017-18) and affiliate (2018-19) at the Berkman Klein Centre at Harvard University, where she worked on operationalising ethical machine learning and AI in the industry. She was listed among the "100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics" in 2021.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Suchana holds patents in text mining and natural language processing and has held workshops with organisations like Women Who Code. She was popular in coding and AI events and has delivered presentations in many held in Bengaluru over the years.
The motive behind the crime is still under investigation. The post mortem of the child’s body was conducted in Karnataka’s Chitradurga district. Dr Kumar Naik, Health Inspector at Hiriyur Government Hospital in Chitradurga said, “The child was killed over 36 hours ago. The cause appears to be smothering or strangulation, as there are no evident wounds or indications of a struggle. It is possible that a pillow or a wire was used."
He added that the body didn’t show signs of rigour mortis — the stiffening of limbs due to chemical changes in muscles, suggesting that the purported murder occurred a minimum of 36 hours before the examination.
The disturbing sequence of events leading to the arrest unfolded when Suchana checked into a rented service apartment at Candolim in North Goa with her son on January 6. After a two-day stay, she left for Bengaluru in a taxi on Monday. Concerns arose when staff at the apartment reported to the police that her son was not seen with her during her departure, and blood stains were discovered in the apartment by the housekeeping staff. CCTV footage confirmed that Suchana entered the apartment with her son but left alone. The Calangute police inspector, Paresh Naik contacted the taxi driver en route to Bengaluru. The driver was instructed to take Suchana to the nearest police station - Aimangala police station in Chitradurga district - without alerting her.
She was arrested on Monday and brought to Goa on Tuesday, where she was produced before a court in Mapusa town. The court remanded Suchana to six days of police custody.