KUALA LUMPUR – The High Court here today ordered that a full trial be held on the defamation suit filed by kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi (picture) against the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and three others over the authorities’ alleged failure to arrest her ex-husband and return her daughter who was abducted by him.
This follows the decision by Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali which dismissed an application by the IGP, Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), Home Ministry, and the government to strike out Indira’s suit.
In his judgment, Justice Mohd Nazlan said he found that the suit filed by the plaintiff (Indra Gandhi) for declaration and damages against the first defendant (IGP) for the tort of nonfeasance in public office and against the other defendants for being vicariously liable in respect of the enforcement of the committal order could not be said to be vexatious, frivolous or an abuse of the court process.
“This case is not obviously unsustainable to warrant a summary dismissal but instead should be allowed to be determined by way of a full trial where the parties will have the opportunity to call their witnesses and present their case. The striking out application is therefore dismissed,” he said in a written judgment made available to the media.
Justice Mohd Nazlan said he found no merit in the contention of the defendants that the suit results in a multiplicity of proceedings in view of the existence of the judicial review proceedings at the High Court in Ipoh which is still monitoring the progress of execution of the committal order.
“This is primarily because both the cause of action of the tort of nonfeasance and the remedy of damages in this suit have never been raised before in any other proceedings. The plaintiff in the judicial review was granted the mandamus in respect of the committal order, which was affirmed by the Federal Court.
“That does not, however, bar the plaintiff from instituting a civil claim like presently to seek damages for the loss she claims to suffer as a result of the alleged nonfeasance of the defendants in respect of the mandamus and committal order,” he said.
Meanwhile, as for Indira’s bid to seek 48 answers from police over their investigations on her fugitive former husband, the court partially allowed her application, on questions related to committal proceeding.
“In respect of the application for the proposed interrogatories, apart from those relating to the recovery order, which cannot be allowed for the reasons stated earlier, several of the other questions, most of which require a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, would in my view serve the legitimate and clear litigious purpose of the interrogatories to obtain admissions which would reduce the issues in dispute.
“The need to call additional witnesses would decrease and the examination of relevant witnesses would be shortened, thereby saving costs and expenses. It is also observed that in his opposition to this application, the first defendant did not aver that the answers to the interrogatories are deemed privileged,” he said.
The judge ordered the defendants to pay a total of RM4,000 in costs for the striking-out order and RM1,000 for the interrogatories application and set Dec 15 to hear the suit.
Senior Federal Counsel Andi Razalijaya A Dadi and Federal Counsel Safiyyah Omar represented the defendants while lawyer Rajesh Nagarajan acted for Indira.
In her suit filed on Oct 28 last year, Indira, 46, claimed that the IGP had deliberately and negligently ignored the mandamus order from the Federal Court and failed to investigate or take appropriate action to return her daughter, Prasana Diksa, to her.
She claimed that all the defendants had a role to play in making decisions or ordering the PDRM to execute the committal warrant against Muhammad Riduan as ordered by the Federal Court on April 29, 2016.
The woman contended that the behaviour of all the defendants had directly caused her separation from her youngest daughter, who is now 13, to continue until today and that their behaviour had also caused Mohd Riduan to flee.
She is seeking RM100 million in general, aggravated and exemplary damages, as well as a declaration that the first defendant (IGP) had committed the tort of nonfeasance in public office, and the second, third and fourth defendants were also vicariously liable for the tort of nonfeasance committed by the first defendant.