Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ex-GRO gets RM100,000 for Rela man's frolic

PUTRAJAYA: The government has to pay RM100,000 in damages to a former guest relations officer as it was vicariously liable for the act of a Rela member who took a picture of her relieving herself in a lorry.

In allowing the appeal by Maslinda Ishak, the Court of Appeal yesterday said the respondents -- the director-general of Rela, the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department's (Jawi) enforcement officers and the government -- were jointly and severally liable.

On Sept 11 last year, the High Court ordered Mohamad Tahir Osman to pay Maslinda RM100,000 for his conduct in taking the picture six years ago.

Judge Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said what Tahir did was outside the scope of his duty and he did it purely on his own accord.


Therefore, he was wholly responsible for his action on Maslinda, 32, now a dental nurse, which had injured her emotionally.

The incident happened after Maslinda and several colleagues were arrested by Jawi enforcement officers and Rela members during a raid at Kelab De Vegas, Jalan Imbi, here about 11.30pm on March 21, 2003.

After the arrest, they were led into a lorry. At 12.50am, when the vehicle was in Jalan Jejaka 5, Taman Maluri, Cheras, Maslinda asked to go to the toilet but her request was denied.

Instead, Maslinda was told to relieve herself inside the lorry.

She did exactly that, shielded by a scarf held by her friends, but Tahir then came, pushed her friends away and took her photograph with his camera.

Maslinda brought a RM5 million suit in damages against Tahir, the Rela director-general, Jawi and government.

Tengku Maimun ruled that the Rela director-general, Jawi and the Federal Government could not be associated with Tahir's action.

Maslinda appealed on ground that the other three were also equally liable to pay damages.

Lawyer Karpal Singh, who was assisted by Sangeet Kaur Deo, told the Court of Appeal that Tahir's act was done in the course of employment and the three respondents were equally liable.

He said Tahir did not appeal against the High Court order, that he was "a man of straw" and Maslinda could not get any compensation from him.

"Tahir had also pleaded guilty for invasion of privacy and was sentenced to four months' jail in a magistrate's court," he said.

Federal Counsel Amarjeet Singh said what was done by Tahir was a frolic of his own.

"He was not authorised by the three respondents. So the government cannot be held liable," he said.

Judges Datuk Suriyadi Halim Omar, Datuk Feffey Tan Kok Hwa and Datuk Sulaiman Daud heard the appeal and made the unanimous ruling.

Karpal later said he would enforce the judgment on the government since the respondents were all from federal agencies.

http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/legal/general_news/ex_gro_gets_rm100000_for_rela_mans_frolic.html

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