Death in custody: Govt offers lower compensation to man’s kin

pchandranPETALING JAYA: Putrajaya has appealed against the award of RM200,000 in exemplary damages to the family of a lorry driver who died in a police lock-up after his medical needs were not attended to.

Lawyer M Visvanathan said the Attorney-General’s Chambers served his firm a copy of the notice appeal last week.

“The government has admitted responsibility for the death of P Chandran and is not appealing against liability.

“However it only wants to set aside the award of RM200,000 to the next-of-kin of Chandran,” Visvanathan told FMT.

In his judgment on Jan 9, High Court judge S Nantha Balan held the police liable for the death of Chandran in the Dang Wangi lock-up four years ago.

Nantha awarded a total of RM357,000 in damages to Chandran’s widow, N Selvi, and daughter, C Rita, for negligence and abuse of public office.

“There was negligence on the failure of the policemen to send the deceased for treatment,” Nantha had said.

The judge also awarded RM200,000 in exemplary damages as the police had deprived Chandran of his life and liberty.

Furthermore, he added the authorities did not take action against any policemen for Chandran’s death. The death was also reported to the Human Rights Commission.

Nantha said Inspector Mahezel Md Noh who was investigating the kidnap case Chandran was alleged to have been involved in, took no steps to send the detainee to hospital.

The judge said Chandran died in custody simply because the police did not observe Lock-Up Rules 1953 which imposed a duty to ensure that detainees were not harmed by the police, by other detainees or they did not harm themselves.

Further, the Rule calls for the police to ensure detainees were healthy and given proper medical care.

The suit was filed in September 2014 and the plaintiffs were relying on the outcome of a coroner’s verdict to back up their claim.

Then Sessions judge Ahmad Bache, who sat as coroner, ruled on Jan 16, 2014 that police were responsible for the death through their omission to provide Chandran with timely medical assistance.

Chandran, 47, a father of six, was arrested on Sept 6, 2012 and held at the Dang Wangi police station lock-up for four days on suspicion of being involved in a kidnapping case.

During that period, he was not allowed to take the medication his family members tried to give him.