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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Temple committee, crane operator risk legal action over devotee’s death


A fragment of a temple tower sculpture fell during a consecration ceremony at a Hindu temple in Ipoh on Sunday.

PETALING JAYA: A temple management committee and a crane operator could face charges or a civil suit over the death of a woman devotee hit by a broken piece of sculpture that fell from a temple tower, according to lawyers.

The incident happened during a ceremony to consecrate the Arulmigu Visalatchi Sametha Kasi Visvanathar Temple in Ipoh on Sunday. The 53-year-old woman died soon after the broken piece fell on her.

Police are investigating whether the piece had been dislodged by a crane in use during the ceremony to lift people to the top of the temple.

Lawyer Ragunath Kesavan said the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 had sufficient provisions to frame quasi-criminal charges against the individuals involved.

“The law even provides for company directors to be charged for acts committed by their employees,” he told FMT.

According to the law, any person who fails to provide a safe work system may be fined up to RM50,000 or sentenced to a jail term of up to two years or both.

Lawyer R Kengadharan said the committee, the crane operator or the company concerned were probably liable for negligence and other action in tort.

“They have a duty of care to devotees at the place of worship,” he said, adding that all those present at the temple were considered invited and could not therefore be considered trespassers.

He said the burden of proof fell on the potential defendants who must show they had taken measures to prevent any accident and to provide a safe environment during the ceremony.

Kengadharan also said the claim that the mishap was an “act of God” was “utterly nonsensical”. - FMT

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