PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal today dismissed the government’s appeal 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.
A three-man bench chaired by Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said the compensation awarded by the High Court early this year was fair.
“The award is not excessive,” she said of the unanimous ruling.
Lawyer M Visvanathan, who appeared for next-of-kin of P Chandran, said the bench also ordered the government to pay costs of RM10,000.
“I hope the government will not appeal further, so as to bring the family’s predicament to a close,” he told FMT.
Following the High Court decision by Justice S Nantha Balan, the government admitted responsibility for the death of Chandran and did appeal against liability.
However, it applied to set aside the award of RM200,000 as Nantha Balan said that compensation was for breach of the deceased’s fundamental right.
In his judgment on Jan 9, Nantha held the police liable for the death of Chandran in the Dang Wangi police 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 policeman for Chandran’s death. The death was also reported to the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam).
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.
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.