Crime & Courts

Court annuls RM66,000 wrongful dismissal award for ex-US Embassy security guard

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today allowed a judicial review application filed by the United States (US) government to annul an RM66,000 award given by the Industrial Court to a former security guard at the US Embassy here for wrongful dismissal.

Judge Datuk Amarjeet Singh, in allowing the application, said the court found the applicant (the US government) and its embassy have immunity and are protected from the jurisdiction of the Industrial Court over the claim by former security guard L. Subramaniam under Section 20 (3) of the Industrial Relations Act 1967.

"Therefore, the court allows the judicial review. The second respondent (Subramaniam) has to pay costs of RM8,000," said the judge in a decision delivered via email.

Lawyers Lim Heng Seng and Summer Chong Yue Han represented the US government, while Subramaniam was represented by lawyer Ragunath Kesavan and senior federal counsel Liew Horng Bin represented the Attorney General as amicus curiae or friend of the court.

The US government filed the application on Aug 9 last year, naming the Industrial Court and Subramaniam as the first and second respondents.

It sought an order for the High Court to annul the award given by the Industrial Court in 2023 to Subramaniam.

The US government also sought a court order that Subramaniam's dismissal for internal disciplinary misconduct was within the embassy, saying that the country and its embassy are protected by immunity from the jurisdiction of the Industrial Court concerning claims under Section 20(3) of the Industrial Relations Act 1967.

On Jan 8, 2020, the High Court ruled that the US government and its embassy were protected by immunity and prohibited the Industrial Court from adjudicating Subramaniam's unlawful dismissal claim case.

However, in 2021, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court's decision and ordered the Industrial Court to proceed with hearing the dispute, prompting the US government to bring the matter up to the Federal Court, but the appeal was rejected.

On April 27 last year, the Industrial Court ordered the US Embassy to pay RM66,000 to Subramaniam after finding that he was unlawfully dismissed.

Subramaniam had been a security guard at the embassy for more than ten years before he was terminated in 2008.

Subramaniam claimed that he was merely performing auxiliary duties at the embassy and was not involved in the diplomatic functions or governmental decisions of the United States.

He also contended that he had no access to confidential information or documents relating to the embassy or the US government. – BERNAMA

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