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.
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.”
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.
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.