The High Court has upheld a wrongful dismissal claim by former manager Y Kohila against Bank Negara Malaysia, citing procedural unfairness during the domestic inquiry and appeal processes. - NSTP filepic
The High Court has upheld a wrongful dismissal claim by former manager Y Kohila against Bank Negara Malaysia, citing procedural unfairness during the domestic inquiry and appeal processes. - NSTP filepic

PETALING JAYA: The High Court has upheld a wrongful dismissal claim by former manager Y Kohila against Bank Negara Malaysia, citing procedural unfairness during the domestic inquiry and appeal processes.

Free Malaysia Today reported that Judge Ahmad Bache stated that Kohila's dismissal breached fundamental natural justice principles, as she was denied representation and the opportunity to be heard before her termination.

"The court had granted the plaintiff's suit as the flaws were so serious and profound," Ahmad said in his 23-page written judgment released last week.

He emphasised that the right to be heard is critical whenever an individual's livelihood is at risk, and this right extends beyond the domestic inquiry to the appeal process as well.

On March 29, Ahmad ruled that the bank wrongfully dismissed Kohila seven years ago for alleged misconduct related to her involvement in political activities.

Kohila was accused of canvassing support for Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) during the 13th general election by drafting and publishing two press statements on the "Oppressed People's Network" website on Apr 12, 2013.

She was also accused of canvassing support for PSM's then secretary-general S Arutchelvan's candidacy for the Selangor state assembly seat of Semenyih on Apr 17, 2013, and of participating in a public rally on May 1, 2016 while wearing an anti-GST shirt.

On May 9, Ahmad ordered Bank Negara to pay Kohila RM366,000 following an assessment of damages. The bank has since filed an appeal against both the liability and the quantum.

Ahmad's judgment highlighted that Kohila was at a disadvantage even before the inquiry began, as she was not granted access to documents used during the in-house proceedings.

She was denied the right to legal counsel and was not provided with a list of the bank's witnesses, hampering her ability to cross-examine them.

Moreover, Kohila was not permitted to call external witnesses despite the charges involving activities outside the bank.

The judge also noted that her attempts to cross-examine the bank's witnesses were repeatedly obstructed, and contrary to the bank's domestic inquiry procedures, she was not called to testify in her own defence.

Despite her 12 years of loyal service, during which she was recognised as a "results-driven officer" and promoted, Kohila was not given the opportunity to mitigate for a lesser punishment before her dismissal.

Her final appeal to the bank's governor was deemed "illusory" and merely a formality.

"At that point in time, she was no longer an employee of the bank. Logic dictates that such being the case, less consideration and little weight will be attached to that appeal," Ahmad concluded.