Parti Liyani, a former domestic worker who was acquitted of four theft charges by the High Court last month has returned to seek a compensation order for losses suffered due to the case.
Her lawyer, Anil Balchandani, estimates that Ms Parti had suffered around S$71,000 in losses as a result of being unable to work due to the theft proceedings for the past four years.
S$41,000 from the estimated sum is for Ms Parti’s salaries including contractual increments over the past four years. The amount was calculated based on her experience of 20 years as a domestic worker.
The sum also includes S$29,220 for her accommodation expenses at a shelter run by the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME).
While Ms Parti is seeking compensation at the amount of S$71,000, the Criminal Procedure Code provides that if an accused person is acquitted of any charges for any offence, and if the prosecution is proven to have been frivolous and vexatious, the court “may order the prosecution or the complainant or the person on whose information the prosecution was instituted to pay as compensation to the accused a sum not exceeding $10,000″.
Justice Chan Seng Onn—the High Court judge who overturned Ms Parti’s conviction and sentencing last month—noted that the cost of court hearings for compensation order would exceed S$10,000, as the court needs to hear arguments on whether the prosecution was frivolous or vexatious.
As such, the judge recommended out-of-court mediation with a third party to help both parties settle on a confidential amount of compensation.
Mr Balchandani had also told the Court that while the original plan was to approached Ms Parti’s former employee, Mr Liew and his family, directly for the compensation, she instructed him “not to add more to (Mr Liew’s) problem” as he had to resign his various corporate positions following her acquittal.
This is why the lawyer decided to seek a compensation order from the Court instead after negotiations with the Attorney-General’s Chambers failed.
As new of this broke out, the public was quick to support Ms Parti’s compensation claim. On the Channel NewsAsia Facebook page, netizens stressed that S$71,000 is too low an amount given what she had to face for four years.
One person noted that at the very least, she should be compensated for the loss of income over that four year period.
Several netizens wondered about the S$10,000 limit stipulated in the Criminal Procedure Code, with one person saying it should be increased to S$100,000 now while another asked why it was so low if the procedure does not justify the cost.
One person highlighted that the S$10,000 is a “low barrier” and that it “doesn’t sound right or logical”.
A few others said that she should also claim compensation for the mental and emotional stress that she endured in that time as well as the damage to her reputation on top of the loss of income and housing expenses incurred by HOME.
One person commented that the case raises the question of who should be made to pay the cost that an accused person has to spend defending themselves when they have not only proven their innocence but there is also a real miscarriage of justice.