Why compensate injuries but not death, asks DAP

Gobind-Singh-Deo-custodial-death-1PETALING JAYA: Gobind Singh Deo says the Civil Law Act 1956 must be amended to value the life of a person who dies as a result of injuries suffered, such as in the case of a custodial death.

The Puchong MP said the current law falls short, hence it should be amended to include claims for exemplary damages in case of death.

“It is wholly senseless for legislation to provide for such compensation in cases where the victim survives but not where they die as a result of injuries, acts or omissions in such cases.

“That defies logic and it suggests that the consequences are more severe for injuries as opposed to death. That cannot be correct,” Gobind said.

He added that the amendment must be made as the right to life is perhaps the most fundamental of rights guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.

“A violation of this constitutional right should invite the heaviest of consequences and/or penalties, if we are to stress its importance, impact and effect.

“I therefore call upon Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said to advice the government to move an amendment to these provisions in the next sitting of the Dewan Rakyat,” he said.

Gobind, who is DAP national legal bureau chairman, added that if the government fails to act, he will as an MP, introduce a private member’s bill on the amendment in the Dewan Rakyat.

He was responding to yesterday’s 4-1 ruling which held that the families of persons who die in custody are not entitled to exemplary damages for a breach of their constitutional right.

Delivering the judgment for the majority, Justice Zaharah Ibrahim said the Federal Constitution did not give the Malaysian courts the power to compensate the family members of such victims.

Others in the majority were justices Ahmad Maarop, Suriyadi Halim Omar and Azahar Mohamed.

As the government’s appeal was allowed, housewife N Indra, whose son A Kugan died in a police lock-up in 2009 was denied RM300,000 in exemplary damages – leaving her with a final compensation of RM401,700.

She filed the suit seeking damages over alleged negligence, assault, false imprisonment and misfeasance of public office as well as breach of statutory duties.

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