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Appeals court reduces damages for man in botched circumcision case from RM3.1 million to RM123,556

The three-man panel of judges says the previous amount awarded was too high.

2 minute read
Malaysian flags wave in the breeze outside the Istana Kehakiman complex in Putrajaya which houses the Court of Appeal and Federal Court. Photo: Bernama
Malaysian flags wave in the breeze outside the Istana Kehakiman complex in Putrajaya which houses the Court of Appeal and Federal Court. Photo: Bernama

A 22-year-old man who lost the head of his penis in a botched circumcision 13 years ago was awarded only RM123,556 in damages compared to the RM3.1 million he had previously won in his lawsuit against the government and four other individuals.

The unanimous decision was made by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal chaired by judge Ravintharan Paramaguru, which found that the amount of RM3.1 million previously awarded by the High Court was too high.

"The general damages of RM2 million obtained by the respondent (young man) are too high and not supported by any documentation. Therefore, the general damages of RM2 million are reduced to RM100,000, and the special damages are reduced from RM108,356 to RM23,556.

"The court also sets aside the severe and exemplary damages amounting to RM1 million awarded by the High Court because the two damages were not stated in the pleadings and there was no basis to allow the two damages. However, the costs of RM100,000 awarded by the High Court are upheld," said Ravintharan, who sat with judges See Mee Chun and Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.

Besides the government, the other four defendants are the Kuala Lipis Hospital’s medical officer and director and the Selayang Hospital’s specialist and director.
In the ruling, Ravintharan said the court would not interfere with the findings of the trial judge, who found that the five defendants, who are the appellants in this case, were responsible for the delay in treatment given to the youth involved at the two hospitals until the surgery took place at 8.30pm on Dec 13, 2010.

At yesterday's proceedings, the five appellants were represented by senior federal counsel Nurhafizza Azizan and federal counsel Saravanan Kuppusamy, while the respondent was represented by lawyer Mohamad Zainuddin Abu Bakar.

The five appellants had appealed against the decision of judge Akhtar Tahir on April 7, 2022, awarding the young man damages amounting to RM3.1 million.

Akhtar, in his written judgment issued on May 27, 2022, said the delay by the medical staff in attending to the man's injuries had extinguished any hope of saving his private part.

The man, who filed the suit on July 19, 2018 through his mother, claimed that the circumcision on Dec 13, 2010 was not carried out according to the prescribed procedure, resulting in the entire head of his penis being severed.

As a result of the permanent disability, the victim's mother claimed that her son who was 10 years old at the time of the incident had retreated into a shell and found it difficult to interact with others.