PETALING JAYA: The High Court in Ipoh has awarded a man RM240,000 in damages for 106 days of false imprisonment and abuse of power after he was wrongfully detained in police and prison custody for an alleged drug trafficking offence.
Justice Bhupindar Singh said Iekmal Hisham Harun had proved his case against the government on a balance of probabilities, holding it vicariously liable for the acts of former police inspector Siti Nor Fauziah Setapa.
The judgment sum included an award of RM30,000 for exemplary damages.
Iekmal was also awarded RM25,000 in costs.
Although named as first defendant, Siti, who was convicted for forging documents and later sacked from the force on April 14, 2020, did not contest the suit.
Iekmal had also named Perak’s chief police officer, the inspector-general of police and the government as defendants.
According to the judgment released last week, Iekmal was arrested on Nov 9, 2016 for being in possession of 36.5g of heroin.
Siti, then attached to the district police headquarters in Manjung, Perak, was assigned as the investigating officer.
Iekmal was remanded and later charged with drug trafficking. As it was a non-bailable offence, he was detained at the Tapah prison.
On Feb 23, 2017, deputy public prosecutor How May Ling lodged a police report claiming that her signature had been forged in the investigation papers, which also contained false information.
On March 7 ,2017, Iekmal was charged with three counts of possession. He was freed from prison on Dec 12, 2017.
In his statement of claim, Iekmal asked for damages for false imprisonment between Nov 21, 2016 and March 7, 2017.
He also said Siti had carried out her public duty wrongfully and that he suffered as a consequence.
Bhupindar said the government did not challenge Siti’s forgery of the signatures of How and two other police officers.
“The act was also done by Siti when she was carrying out her official duties. I cannot accept the argument that she was on a frolic of her own,” he said in his 40-page judgment.
As such, the judge said, the other defendants should be held liable for her acts and conduct.
Bhupindar said Iekmal must be compensated for the loss of his liberty. However, he rejected a claim for damages of RM3 million on the ground that the plaintiff should not be unjustly enriched.
Iekmal was awarded RM2,000 a day for the 106 days of unlawful detention.
Bhupindar said he awarded RM30,000 in exemplary damages as Siti had failed to uphold the rule of law.