Court orders Govt to pay former Deputy Solicitor General withheld salary

first_imgFormer Deputy Solicitor General Prithima Kissoon WilliamsActing Chief Justice (CJ) Roxanne George has ordered that the Legal Affairs Ministry pay former Deputy Solicitor General Prithima Kissoon all monies owed to her, ruling that the Ministry’s decision to withhold her salaries was whimsical and an abuse of power.Kissoon took the State to court after the Attorney General Chambers decided to withhold her salary when she went overseas while on administrative leave. The Ministry had claimed that this was because she left the country without permission.At the time, the Public Service Commission (PSC) was reportedly investigating Kissoon for conduct while she served as the Deputy Solicitor General. According to Kissoon’s lawyer Nigel Hughes, the PSC never instructed that her salary be placed on hold.“The PS (Permanent Secretary) of the MOLA (Ministry of Legal Affairs) wrote to Ms Kissoon’s attorney advising him that her salary had been withheld because she had left the country without permission and that ‘on the directive of the Attorney General’s Chambers, [she] was advised and instructed that her salary be withheld with immediate effect pending the course of disciplinary action by the Public Service Commission,’ no investigation was ever conducted,” law firm Hughes, Fields & Stoby stated on Saturday.According the law firm, upon her return, Kissoon was summoned by the Public Service Commission to attend a meeting with the PSC. Kissoon attended the meeting with her Attorney, Nigel Hughes, who enquired at the meeting about why her salary was withheld and the commissioners present denied issuing such a directive.In her ruling, Justice George noted that the Permanent Secretary of the Legal Affairs Ministry overreached and exceeded authority by withholding Kissoon’s salary. Justice George pointed out in her ruling that it was the PSC that had sent Kissoon on administrative leave and thus, the Permanent Secretary could not usurp the Commission’s role in handing out punitive measures.“Indeed, the letter inviting the applicant to meet with the PSC did not say in relation to what the meeting was about. This is especially relevant as the circumstances of this case disclose that the PSC was dealing with more than one issue as regards the applicant – the allegations by the AG against her regarding her work, the complaint that she made against the AG, and the issue of her leaving the country without permission,” the ruling states.The Chief Justice also found that Kissoon’s fundamental right to her property was violated. The Court also noted that the AG Chamber’s advice to the Permanent Secretary to withhold Kissoon’s salary seemed to be aimed at punishing her. Besides Kissoon’s salary, the Chief justice also ordered the Permanent Secretary to pay costs in the sum of $500,000.Controversy at AG’s ChambersKissoon was dismissed as Deputy Solicitor General in 2017, after a Public Service Commission inquiry into the complaints against her. Last year, the High Court dismissed her attempts to overturn the commission’s decision. She has since filed proceedings in the Court of Appeal.The incident arose with Attorney General Basil Williams, with accusations being traded against each other. The AG had launched a probe into cases which Deputy Solicitor General Kissoon was involved in, following by the Court of Appeal, dismissing a State-sponsored appeal against a High Court decision that quashed a private criminal charge against Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo.The Appeal Court ruled that the appeal was null after Kissoon had conceded to a claim by Jagdeo’s lawyer that the Attorney General was not a proper party to the proceeding. Williams had since blamed Kissoon for the outcome of the case.However, although he has blamed Kissoon for the loss, Solicitor General Sita Ramlall, in a letter to the editor, had pointed out that Williams had insisted to Kissoon and herself that he be named as the plaintiff in the appeal when he was not a party.For her part, Kissoon has made public several accusations, including that she was harassed, verbally abused and prevented from carrying out her duties, all in an effort to oust her from her position. Kissoon had served as Deputy Solicitor General under the previous administration.last_img

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