Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Police, govt liable over Balamurugan’s 2017 custodial death - court

Police, govt liable over Balamurugan’s 2017 custodial death - court

The Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that the police and the government were liable over the death in custody of S Balamurugan five years ago.

In a media statement, counsel Zaid Malek - from Lawyers for Liberty - confirmed that the court decided in favour of the family of the deceased in their civil action to hold the authorities responsible for his death on Feb 8, 2017.

The family’s lawyer said the civil court will set another date to determine damages to be paid by the government and the police over the matter.

“High Court judge Ahmad Bache held that the police and the government are liable for the death of Balamurugan.

“The court ruled that they were liable for negligence, unlawful imprisonment, breach of statutory duty and assault and battery against the deceased which caused his death,” Zaid said.

Senior federal counsel Norfauzani Mohd Nordin represented the defendants, namely four police officers, the inspector-general of police (whose name was not specified) and the government of Malaysia.

On Feb 7, 2020, the two plaintiffs - Balamurugan’s Thai wife Natthanan Yoochomsuk and his brother S Balraj - filed the civil action through the law firm Daim & Gamany.

Back on Jan 18, 2018, the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) found that the police had committed several serious breaches of conduct and abuses of power concerning the death of Balamurugan the year before.

Balamurugan was arrested and allegedly beaten at the Bandar Baru Klang police station on Feb 6, 2017, before he was taken to the Shah Alam centralised lock-up facility for a few hours and then sent for a remand hearing at a Klang Magistrate's Court in the morning.

The magistrate ordered that Balamurugan be released, but instead, he was allegedly held at the North Klang police district headquarters and was found dead in the early hours of Feb 8, 2017.

Breach of statutory duty

According to the statement of claim, the two plaintiffs claimed that one of the defendants or other police officers had intentionally and without just cause committed assault and battery on Balamurugan while under detention, causing his death.

The duo alleged that in the alternative, the injuries and death of Balamurugan, as well as the resulting loss and damage, are caused by the defendants’ breach of duty.

The plaintiffs claimed furthermore or in the alternative that Balamurugan’s death was caused by the defendants’ breach of statutory duty under Section 3(3) of the Police Act 1967, among others.

Section 3(3) states that the police force “shall subject to this act be employed in and throughout Malaysia (including the territorial waters thereof) for the maintenance of law and order, the preservation of the peace and security of Malaysia, the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension and prosecution of offenders and the collection of security intelligence”.

The plaintiffs also contended further or in the alternative that the defendants had arrested and detained the deceased without proper cause and in contravention of the law between Feb 6 and 8, 2017.

Through the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are seeking general, aggravated, exemplary and vindicatory damages, as well as RM23,000 in special damages, damages to the family for loss from the death, and damages for the benefit of the deceased’s estate.

The duo seeks a declaration that the defendants had with intention, without just cause and with malice, violated the deceased’s basic freedom under the Federal Constitution.

They seek eight percent annual interest from the date of filing of the suit to the date of judgment, five percent interest from the date of judgment to the date of full settlement, cost, and any other relief deemed fit by the court.

Natthanan and Balraj are the administrators of Balamurugan’s estate.


  1. There should also have been a criminal case against the Police who were involved in his death.
    Goes to show the total ineffectiveness of the current Police investigate Police wrong-doing.setup.

  2. It is a good start to hold the authorities responsible. Let us see if the government will appeal.

    But, like Monsterball said, there should be criminal charges against the officers involved in Balamurugam's death.

    A death that was both unwarranted and needless.