IGP seeks to dismiss Indira Gandhi’s lawsuit for compensation, cites High Court’s evaluation of efforts to find abducted daughter

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador speaks at a press conference on MCO 2.0 in Kuala Lumpur January 12, 2021. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador speaks at a press conference on MCO 2.0 in Kuala Lumpur January 12, 2021. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — The Inspector-General of Police and the government have asked the High Court here to dismiss M. Indira Gandhi’s lawsuit against them seeking compensation for their failure to execute a court order to recover her youngest daughter, Prasana Diksa.

They argued that the recovery efforts were already before the High Court in a related case in Ipoh.

Indira’s lawyer Rajesh Nagarajan today confirmed to Malay Mail that all four respondents — the IGP, the police, the Home Ministry and the government of Malaysia — have applied for the dismissal.

However, Rajesh described their given reason as “baseless”.

“They allege that the Ipoh High Court is monitoring the mandamus order. There is no connection actually,” he told Malay Mail when contacted after the case management for Indira’s civil lawsuit.

He was referring to a court order compelling the police to track down Prasana, who was taken away from Indira in 2009 by her ex-husband.

In the dismissal application that Malay Mail sighted, the IGP and the three others claimed, among other things, that Indira’s civil lawsuit was an abuse of court process due to the alleged “multiplicity of proceedings”.

Twelve years of mother-child separation, despite court rulings in Indira’s favour

In 2009, Hindu mother Indira was separated from Prasana — who was just 11 months old — when her Muslim convert ex-husband K. Pathmanathan left the house with the toddler and converted Prasana and her two other siblings to Islam without their knowledge or consent.

Pathmanathan, who later became known as Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, later obtained custody for the three children from the Shariah courts in 2009.

As the years went by, Indira won full custody of her three children in the civil courts and had the Shariah custody order quashed.

Indira had also obtained court orders that were mandamus orders or orders that compelled the police to both find Prasana and to arrest Riduan for his contempt of court due to his failure to return the child to Indira’s custody.

But Indira is still separated from Prasana to this day and has yet to meet her again after their separation in 2009 except briefly when the child was 18 months old, even after she had declared her willingness to respect Prasana’s decision to embrace and practise any religion including Islam. All Indira was given since then were just photographs of Prasana, and had been denied the chance to meet and reunite with Prasana after Riduan appeared to go into hiding with the child.

Prasana will be 13 years old this April, which means that the child has been separated for almost 12 years already from Indira and Prasana’s two other elder siblings.

M. Indira Gandhi and her daughter Tevi Darsiny showing the only pictures they have of Prasana Diksa. — Picture by Farhan Najib
M. Indira Gandhi and her daughter Tevi Darsiny showing the only pictures they have of Prasana Diksa. — Picture by Farhan Najib

Two court matters

After facing about eight years of legal battle in the courts previously to secure the return of her daughter Prasana and also to reverse her ex-husband’s unilateral conversion of their children to Islam, there are still two court matters that are ongoing for Indira.

The first is a matter in the High Court in Ipoh, which had in 2014 ordered the police to both recover Prasana and arrest Riduan for contempt of a court order that gave full custody of all three children to Indira.

In the May 30, 2014 order, the High Court in Ipoh had also instructed the police to submit monthly updates on their efforts to arrest Riduan and recover Prasana.

But in December 2020, the High Court in Ipoh ordered the police to submit an affidavit to state their efforts since 2014 in the bid to arrest Riduan and recover Prasana, after the court was informed that the police had failed to provide any such updates since May 30, 2014 either to the courts or to Indira’s lawyers.

Separately, Indira had on October 28, 2020 filed a civil lawsuit against  the IGP, the police, the Home Ministry and the government of Malaysia, to seek for RM100 million in compensation, and a declaration that the IGP had committed the tort of nonfeasance in public office by failing to recover Prasana, and that the three others are vicariously liable for the tort of nonfeasance allegedly committed by the IGP.

On January 11, 2021, Indira filed an interrogatories application as part of her civil lawsuit, where she applied to the High Court in Kuala Lumpur to be allowed to present a list of 48 questions to the IGP for the latter to answer.

Included in the list of 48 questions were whether the IGP knew of the location of Prasana and Riduan in any of the years from 2014 to 2020, and whether Prasana is to the police’s knowledge currently under Riduan’s custody and whether there were evidence on whether the child is currently alive.

Today, the civil lawsuit filed by Indira against the IGP and the three others came up for an online session of case management before the High Court in Kuala Lumpur’s senior registrar Idamasliza Maarof through e-Review, Rajesh said.

According to Rajesh, lawyer Pavitra Loganathan appeared for Indira while federal counsel Safiyyah Omar appeared for the four who were sued during the case management.

Based on the case management, Rajesh said the High Court was informed by Safiyyah that a striking out application by IGP and the three others had been filed and was served on Indira today.

As for the interrogatories application, Rajesh said Indira’s lawyers had yesterday served the notice of it on those sued.

Rajesh said the High Court today directed the IGP to file his affidavit in reply in relation to the interrogatories application by February 4, with Indira to file her affidavit in reply by February 18.

As for the striking out application by the IGP and government, Indira was asked to file her affidavit in reply by January 29, and the IGP was asked to file his affidavit in reply by February 15, he said.

Both the interrogatories application and the striking out application will come up for case management again on February 19, he said.

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