PETALING JAYA: All blame for the “wrongful detention” of single mother Saroja Devi Krishnan in the Taiping police station even after she had posted bail should fall on the police officer in charge of courts (OC Courts), says a lawyer.
“The OC Courts maintains offices in all courts in the country. The personnel under him will monitor proceedings and take cognizance of orders and sentences handed down by magistrates and judges.
“Amongst others, it is also their duty and responsibility to vigilantly check and ensure whether bails have been posted and fines have been paid and prisoners are released or freed as ordered by the courts, by the end of the working day,” senior lawyer Sankara N Nair told FMT.
Hence, he said, police cannot transfer any blame to the accused, who are lay persons who may have never set foot in a court.
Last Friday, Saroja Devi was handcuffed immediately and taken to the police station despite settling her RM500 bail on time. She had to spend the night in the lock-up.
This was after the magistrate had fined her RM2,000 after she pleaded guilty to negligence under Section 289 of the Penal Code, resulting in a dog under her control attacking and injuring a neighbour.
However, she appealed for a lower fine and the magistrate fixed RM500 as bail pending the hearing of the appeal on Oct 25.
It took the intervention of magistrate Adibah Kadir the following day, a Saturday, to save her from the ordeal of spending another two nights in the lock-up.
Nair said the OC Courts in Taiping had failed miserably by not ensuring that Saroja Devi had posted bail, adding that things have improved vastly nowadays as payments can be made online electronically via the E-Jamin system.
“As the daughter had done this, there is incontrovertible evidence that she paid the bail sum and duly brought it to the attention of the police.
“Had the OC Courts done his duty, there would have been no necessity for Saroja Devi to endure the ignominy of spending a night in the lock-up,” said Nair.
Nair, who was once deputy police chief in Kluang, said it was the duty of police personnel and the OC Courts to ensure the procedures are well explained to the accused and bailors.
“In her case, her daughter settled the bail payment at 12.39pm. Yes, the court adjourned for Friday prayers but the officer in charge should have ensured that procedures are followed and not send her handcuffed immediately to the police station,” he said.
Nair said he sympathised with Taiping district police chief Osman Mamat, who has had to defend the actions of his officers as he may not even have known that Saroja Devi was being detained despite settling bail.
“Unfortunately, OCPDs are always held accountable even though the breaches of duty are committed by subordinate officers,” he said.
Nair urged Bukit Aman to review the procedures and duties of the OC Courts to ensure that no citizen is held under detention because of a lapse in the duty of its officers, adding that Saroja Devi’s case should not be treated as an isolated one.
“The image of the police force is at stake,” he said.Internet Explorer Channel Network