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SINGAPORE: A father and mother who sued their daughter over being made to move out of her flat had their case dismissed after both failed to show up in court for their trial. 

Unsatisfied, the parents, Mr Pakirisamy Rajoo, 73, and Madam Sharma Indra Devi, 65, applied to set aside this dismissal. 

This application was also dismissed by Justice See Kee Oon, who noted in grounds of decision issued on Wednesday (Nov 9) that the couple had been absent from court without valid reason. 

Describing the case as “highly unusual” and an “abuse of court process”, Justice See said: “The only inference I could draw was that the plaintiffs, for reasons best known to themselves, did not wish to be present for the trial.” 

The couple had not shown up for the scheduled trial dates of Oct 11 and Oct 12 this year. 

“They were not serious about prosecuting their claim, and must have known that the claim was unmeritorious,” said Justice See.

The judge surmised that the couple had “deliberately absented themselves to cause further inconvenience to the defendant, add to the defendant’s legal costs and frustrate and protract proceedings”. 

“This was a flagrant abuse of the court’s process,” added Justice See. 

In the judgement, Justice See also criticised the “cavalier conduct” of the couple’s lawyer, Mr Mohan Singh Gurdial Singh from S K Kumar Law Practice, who was also a no-show for his clients’ trial. 


The couple had filed the suit against their daughter, Madam Sheila Devi Pakirisamy Rajoo, claiming a sum of S$300,000 on the basis that their daughter had allegedly allowed them to reside in her flat at Woodlands during their lifetime. 

The flat had belonged to the couple until it was sold to Mdm Sheila in 2009 for S$410,000. The couple moved out in 2017 but returned in 2020. 

In March this year, Mdm Sheila sold the flat and informed her parents they had to move out by May this year. However the couple declined to move out. 

The couple then filed a suit claiming that their daughter had said she would pay them S$300,000 if she were to sell the flat. The amount includes S$60,000, ostensibly as repayment for their help in clearing Mdm Sheila’s past debts. Mdm Sheila denied the claims and the matter was set for trial. 

However on Oct 11, only Mdm Sheila and her lawyer Andrew John Hanam were present for the hearing.

When contacted by the court manager more than ten minutes past the scheduled time of the trial, the couple’s lawyer, Mr Singh, said that he was unwell and would not be attending court. 

He said that he had arranged for someone from his office to attend court, and asked the court manager to call his office. After two fruitless calls to the office, the court manager was told that a representative would attend court, but no one did. 

The court manager was also informed that the couple would not attend court as Mr Rajoo had just been discharged from hospital earlier that morning, while Mdm Devi was unwell. 

After the trial commenced without the plaintiffs, Mr Hanam said that he had not received any plaintiff documents and that the couple had “intentionally delayed matters from the start of the proceedings”. 

Justice See dismissed the couple’s suit during this hearing. 

That evening, however, the couple filed an application to set aside the dismissal on “exceptional grounds mainly due to ill health”. In an attached affidavit, Mr Rajoo claimed that he went to Woodlands Polyclinic on Oct 10 due to vomiting. He was discharged at around 5.07am on Oct 11 and went home to sleep, thus missing his trial. 

Mdm Devi had also been on medical leave as she had “difficulty in walking due to right knee osteoarthritis and was ‘on wheelchair'”, according to Mr Rajoo, who claimed that he had not expected his lawyer to also be sick.

Medical certificates produced on behalf of both Mr Rajoo and Mr Singh did not contain any diagnosis and stated that they were not valid for absence from court. No medical certificate was produced for Mdm Devi. 


The couple’s application to set aside the dismissal of the case was set for a virtual hearing on Oct 27 via Zoom. 

Again, neither the plaintiffs nor Mr Singh attended. Submissions for this hearing were also filed less than one-and-a-half-hours before the hearing commenced, noted the judge. 

A lawyer from another firm eventually attended the hearing on behalf of the couple. This lawyer raised three main points: That the couple had been absent as they were elderly and sick; that there had not been undue delay in making the application; and that the application still had its merits. 

Justice See dismissed the couple’s application.

He found that the reasons behind Mr Rajoo’s absence in court were “unconvincing and contrived”. 

Mr Rajoo’s medical documents were inconsistent with his claim that he was severely ill, as he had been discharged after observation, said the judge, who gave no weight to the medical certificates. 

Justice See similarly did not give weight to a note purportedly produced by a man from Woodlands Polyclinic claiming that Mdm Devi had an osteoarthritis flare in her right knee, resulting in difficulty walking. 

Addressing Mr Singh’s absence, Justice See said: “Mr Singh did not have the basic courtesy to inform Mr Hanam and the court beforehand that he was unwell (assuming for the moment that he was indeed unwell). 

“Instead, he was content to wait for the court to contact him to ascertain why he was not present at the scheduled hearing time. His bland response was that he had already informed his office that he was unwell and would not be attending court. His office had made no apparent effort to apprise Mr Hanam or the court of this at any point.”

He added: “What was highly telling however was that despite their alleged poor state of health, both Mr Singh and Mr Rajoo were well enough to arrange to prepare the affidavit for the application on the very same day that the claim was dismissed, and have it affirmed and filed with supporting documents annexed.

“All this was done barely 12 hours after I dismissed the claim. This greatly undermined their claims that they were so ill that they could not even be present in court for the trial.”

On the merits of the case, Justice See said the couple failed to put forth any objective evidence supporting their allegations that their daughter had made representations to permit them to occupy the flat during their lifetime and did not substantiate how they arrived at the sum of S$300,000. 


In his judgment, the judge also pointed out that Mr Singh, the couple’s lawyer, had potentially breached the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct Rules) 2015, by failing to keep Mr Hanam apprised of his intended absence, and for failing to ensure appropriate arrangements were made.  

“In so doing, he had demonstrated gross discourtesy to his opposing counsel and disrespect for the authority of the court,” said Justice See. 

However the judge stopped short of taking further action against Mr Singh’s potential breaches. 

“I take the opportunity instead to sound a warning that such conduct is unacceptable and unbecoming of an officer of the court. Should the court encounter future similar infractions whether from Mr Singh or other like-minded counsel, these may be met with grave consequences,” he said.

Justice See awarded S$4,000 in costs for the dismissal application to Mdm Sheila.