Court orders trial over unpaid salary to late doctor

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PUTRAJAYA: A widower today won the right to have his late wife’s suit over unpaid salary heard in a Penang Sessions Court.

A three-man Court of Appeal bench, led by Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, allowed the appeal by Dr P Sandran to have the merits of the case heard.

“Not all cases affecting a public authority must be heard by way of a judicial review application,” she said of the unanimous decision.

The court also ordered the government to pay RM5,000 in costs to Sandran.

Lawyer Yagoo Subramaniam, who represented Sandran, said the case would be mentioned before a Sessions Court judge on Aug 15.

Sandran’s wife, Dr Chitra Sandran, was diagnosed with brain cancer in April 2013 and she had applied for medical leave for two years.

According to the General Orders (Para 31 and sub section 3a and b), she was also entitled to salary and other perks while on leave.

However, the government refused to pay, resulting in her filing a suit by way of an originating summons in the Sessions Court in February 2014.

The suit was dismissed on grounds that it should have been filed by way of judicial review and the High Court affirmed the decision in March last year.

Meanwhile, Chitra, who was employed as a contract medical officer at the Seberang Perai Health Department, died at age 53 on February 2015.

Sandran then stepped in to continue with the legal suit in his capacity as executor of her will.

The defendants named in the suit are South Seberang Prai District Health Department director Dr Rozaini Mat Shah, the department’s state director, the health ministry’s secretary-general and the ministry.

Sandran is asking for aggravated and exemplary damages amounting to RM500,000.

Sandran claimed that Chitra’s leave to undergo treatment had been approved by the head of department then.

The defendants, in their statement of defence, stated that the action should have been brought by way of a judicial review.