KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today found the police liable for the death of a lorry driver in the Dang Wangi lock-up four years ago after his medical needs were not attended to.
Judge S Nantha Balan awarded a total of RM357,000 in damages to P Chandran’s widow, N Selvi, and daughter, C Rita, for negligence and abuse of public office. Another RM50,000 was awarded as costs.
The judge imposed a 5% interest on the award, to be calculated from the day the suit was filed until the judgment sum is settled.
“There was negligence on the failure of the policemen to send the deceased for treatment,” Nantha said.
From the amount, Nantha awarded RM200,000 in exemplary damages as the police had deprived Chandran of life and liberty.
“This death was lamentable and regrettable as it was avoidable,” the judge said.
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 he found the conduct of the police appalling, despite a magistrate giving orders to the officer, Inspector Mahezel Md Noh, to attend to Chandran’s medical needs.
The judge said another officer, Inspector Mohd Saidon Shaari, who was tasked with investigating Chandran’s death, did not do a thorough job. He said the conduct of both policemen was lackadaisical.
Nantha said police had a legal duty under the Police Act and the Police Lock-Up Rules to care for sick and mentally abnormal persons in their custody.
“In this case there was breach of this statutory duty despite the wife alerting police of his (Chandran’s) medical condition,” he said.
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.
Lawyers M Visvanathan and S Nandakumar represented Selvi and Rita.
The government in its defence said Ahmad’s finding was erroneous in fact and law and that the police had done no wrong.
Visvanathan told FMT he hoped the government would not appeal the case.
“Let this matter rest and the family carry on with their lives. No amount of monetary compensation will bring Chandran back to life,” he added. -FMT