Daughter of murdered Surrey teacher gets over $500,000 compensation from father

pregnant wife

Mukhtiar Panghali. The Province / Arlen Redekop photo

KEITH FRASER
VANCOUVER DESI

The young daughter of a Surrey school teacher murdered by her husband has been awarded more than $500,000 in family compensation damages.

The aunt and uncle of 10-year-old Maya Kaur Panghali sued the girl’s father, Mukhtiar Singh Panghali, on her behalf after the dad was convicted in the October 2006 slaying of his wife, Manjit Kaur Panghali, 31. Manjit Kaur was pregnant with their second child at the time of her death.

In October 2013, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jane Dardi found that the dad was liable for the wrongful death of his wife and ordered that damages be assessed.

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In a ruling released Wednesday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Punnett noted that there were other lawsuits pending in the case, including claims related to the value of the matrimonial home and an investment property owned by the dad.

Resham Basra (left) and Jasmine Bhambra are father & sister of Manjit Panghali holds portrait of Manjit at a press conference in 2007. Arlen Redekop/PNG

He declined a bid by the defendant to merge the lawsuits, saying his job was merely to assess family compensation owed to the victim’s estate and her daughter.

Punnett awarded $165,000 for loss of future dependency, $54,700 for past loss of dependency, $129,000 for past loss of household services and childcare, $172,00 for future loss of household assistance and $35,000 for loss of guidance. The judge also awarded $58,600 for the public guardian and trustee fees.

The plaintiffs sought an award for special legal costs, saying the killer’s conduct had been reprehensible, but the defendants argued that those submissions amounted to a request for punitive damages, which cannot be awarded under the family compensation laws.

The judge said that he agreed that Panghali’s conduct was reprehensible.

“Indeed it is difficult to envision more reprehensible conduct than that of the defendant in murdering his wife and their child’s mother and burning her body in an effort to escape detection,” said the judge.

Manjit Panghali. PNG Archive

“However, in the circumstances I do not think that this is a proper basis for an award of special costs. First, the court has already demonstrated its disapproval of that misconduct in the criminal proceedings. Mr. Panghali is serving a life sentence for the murder. Second, I have some concerns about awarding special costs with the goal of punishing the conduct giving rise to the cause of action when the statutory basis for the cause does not permit an award of punitive damages.”

Panghali was convicted of second-degree murder in March 2011. Manjit had gone missing after attending a pre-natal yoga class in Surrey. Her burned remains were found in Delta five days later.

kfraser@theprovince.com

twitter.com/keithrfraser

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