Judge: Former SSA Director was Wrongfully Dismissed

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SAN FERNANDO – THE former director of the Strate­gic Ser­vices Agency (SSA) Bis­nath Ma­haraj constitutional rights were violated when he was not told the reasons for his dismissal in 2015.

This was the ruling on Monday by Justice Eleanor Don­ald­son-Hon­ey­well in the San Fernando High Court.

In a 17-page judge­ment, Jus­tice Don­ald­son-Hon­ey­well said that Ma­haraj’s con­sti­tu­tion­al right to pro­tec­tion of the law was vi­o­lat­ed and breached as he was not told of the rea­sons for his dis­missal and giv­en an op­por­tu­ni­ty to be heard be­fore it was ef­fect­ed.

The judge re­ject­ed sub­mis­sions from the Of­fice of the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al that the SSA Act, which es­tab­lished the clan­des­tine in­tel­li­gence-gath­er­ing agency and cre­at­ed the post of di­rec­tor, al­lowed for his ter­mi­na­tion at any time.

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Don­ald­son-Hon­ey­well said, “The word­ing of the Act, though clear that ter­mi­na­tion could oc­cur at any time, does not delve in­to the pro­ce­dure to be fol­lowed in ef­fect­ing such a ter­mi­na­tion.”

She said Par­lia­ment must have in­tend­ed that ba­sic pro­ce­dur­al fair­ness and the ob­ser­vance of the rules of nat­ur­al jus­tice would ap­ply in the ab­sence of clear di­rec­tives un­der the leg­is­la­tion.

Don­ald­son-Hon­ey­well said, “In any event, the Act does not pro­vide that the di­rec­tor could be dis­missed at any time with or with­out just cause and with­out any op­por­tu­ni­ty to be heard.”

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The judge ordered the issue of compensation to be assessed by a Master of the High Court.

Ma­haraj, a po­lice of­fi­cer with more than 30 years’ ser­vice, took a leave of ab­sence af­ter he was ap­point­ed to the post on a two-year con­tract in 2012, according to evidence presented in the case.

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His con­tract was ex­tend­ed for three years in 2014 but he was even­tu­al­ly ter­mi­nat­ed on No­vem­ber 12, 2015.

Ma­haraj was rep­re­sent­ed by Anand Ram­lo­gan, SC, Ger­ald Ramdeen, and Jared Ja­groo.

Dou­glas Mendes, SC, Michael Quam­i­na, Kristal Mad­hos­ingh, and Ka­dine Matthew appeared for the Attorney General.

 

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