Sacked REO Social Security Officer lost $5M claim in 2003
IN 2005, the Guyana Court of Appeal ruled that a trial judge was correct when he found that Social Security Officer Dwarka Nauth had wrongly sued the Public Service Commission for wrongful dismissal instead of the Regional Executive Officer.Nauth later appealed to the Public Service Appellate Tribunal, but later learnt that that agency, though it allowed his appeal, did not have jurisdiction to pronounce on the termination of the Appellant’s services and its decision was a nullity.
The Court of Appeal, constituted by Justice Claudette Singh, Justice Nandram Kissoon and Justice Ian Chang upheld the decision of the trial judge.
That Court said the Appellate tribunal in this case was of the view that there was a decision of the Service Commission terminating the Appellant’s services, while the decision was that of the R.E.O.
In the circumstances it had no jurisdiction to make any pronouncement and as such its decision was a nullity.
The Appellant adopted the wrong procedure in not suing the R.E.O. for wrongful dismissal. The decision of the learned trial judge was accordingly upheld.
The facts of the case disclosed that the Appellant a Social Security Officer in the Regional Council, was appointed by the Public Service Commission to act as Assistant Hospital Administrator from March 1, 1994 until the end of 1995 when he reverted to his position as a Social Security Officer in the Regional Council.
The Appellant’s services were terminated by the Regional Executive Officer with effect from September 1, 2000.
He appealed to the Public Service Appellate Tribunal which allowed his appeal in 2003. He then claimed the sum of $5, 096, 353.00 from the Respondents, with interest, which would have been salary earned between January 1, 1996 and March 31, 2003. The trial Judge denied his claim on the ground that the Appellate Tribunal had no jurisdiction to determine his appeal. He appealed to the Court of Appeal.
The Appellate Court held that the position of Social Security Officer was not employed by the Public Service Commission, but by the Regional Council. In the circumstances, the Public Service Commission did not have jurisdiction to pronounce on the termination of the Appellant’s services and its decision was therefore a nullity.
Decision of trial judge upheld.
Mr. Benjamin Gibson appeared for the Appellant and Mr. Doodnauth Singh, S. C., Attorney General, for the Respondents.
At the trial the Appellant had testified that he was a Social Security Officer in Region 2 and was appointed by the Public Service Commission to act as an Assistant Hospital Administrator with effect from March 1, 1994. He worked until 1995when he was interdicted from duty on a charge of forgery. During this period he received three-quarters of his salary. He also received a letter which made it clear that his acting appointment had been terminated. He also received a letter which read: “Since you are not performing the duties of Assistant Hospital Administrator at present, you cannot be paid any portion of the acting allowance.”
The judgment added “It is obvious that after he was interdicted his acting appointment came to an abrupt end and he reverted to his former position as a Social Security Officer.
On April 10th, 2000 the charge against him was dismissed. On June 26th 2000 his counsel by letter so informed the Public Service Commission and the Regional Executive Officer.
On August 31, 2000 he received a letter of which paragraph 3 read: “it is with regret therefore that I have to inform you that your service is hereby terminated with effect from September 1st 2000.”
He then appealed this decision to the Appellate Tribunal. At page 46 of the record is an affidavit in support of his notice of appeal to that Tribunal.
At paragraph 20 he appellant deposed: The Regional Council have compounded their ultra vires act by removing me from an office the jurisdiction of which is vested solely in the Public Service Commission.
At paragraph 22 he further deposed: “That in the circumstances and the foregoing I appeal to the Appellate Tribunal to protect my rights.”