Judicial judgements I agree

There are a lot of times when I don’t agree with the judgements handed down in the courts, especially when they pertain to cases of rape etc. However, I agree completely with this judge’s reasoning, and I believe that it should be upheld (it would be upheld I think, considering that this is from the High Court). After all, if an illegal foreign worker gets knocked down here, I don’t think he should be liable to claim loss of income now, can he?

Will reprint the article in full soon. Working illegally is one thing, but expecting the court to legalise your earnings? That stinks to high heaven!

Court rules against injured illegal worker
By Jaspal Singh

26 February, 2008

An illegal immigrant in this country has no right to claim loss of income, the High Court ruled yesterday. The ruling meant that 38-year-old Sukatno Karnen, an Indonesian illegal worker who became paralysed after he was hit by a van in 1996 in Jalan Fair Park here, will not be getting the award of RM153,600 in lost income decided by the Sessions Court here seven years ago.

The award was to be given out in instalments of RM800 per month for 16 years beginning Nov 28, 2001, the day the judgment was passed.

Judge Datuk V.T. Singham, who yesterday allowed 54-year-old carpenter Lee Seng Kee’s appeal to set aside the earlier judgment, said the Sessions Court judge had misdirected himself in law and on the facts of the case.

“Sukatno did not have a work permit. It is not a case of where he originally had a work permit but that work permit had expired,” the High Court judge said.

“The sessions judge having found that the plaintiff was an illegal worker, had erred in law on the facts in awarding damages for the loss of earnings which were illegally earned.”

Singham stressed that the High Court could not legitimise Sukatno’s illegal earnings.

“It will be an affront to the public conscience and interests to grant Sukatno the relief which he claimed and if allowed, would seem to be indirectly assisting or encouraging foreigners to come illegally to this country and also encourage the commission of similar offences by other illegal immigrants.”

Sukatno, who returned to Indonesia in 2001, was represented by counsel Inderjit Singh, while Lee was represented by Vivekanandan A.M.S. Periasamy.

Pointing out that public interest or public policy must override moral justification, Singham said despite sympathising with Sukatno, his personal sentiment did not allow him to override the judicial function.

“This court will only act on the facts and the application of law and not on personal sentiment to try make out a case in favour of Sukatno.”

Sukatno fractured his spine which caused a dislocation of his vertebrae, resulting in paraplegia.

Singham stressed that the sanctity and certainty of immigration laws had to be maintained and strictly observed.

“Otherwise, it would undermine, frustrate and would be tantamount to condoning or encouraging an illegal act,” the judge said.

“This court ought not to unlock the gates which have been shut or prohibited by the legislature by entertaining a claim of illegally earned money or by an illegal immigrant in total violation of the immigration laws,” he said.

Singham also set aside the lower court’s finding that Lee was 50 per cent negligent in the accident, adding that the finding was based on speculation or conjecture.