AG appeals ruling on Sooba appointment

Attorney General Anil Nandlall on Thursday appealed acting Chief Justice Ian Chang’s ruling that the appointment of Carol Sooba was legally defective.

The appeal was filed on behalf of the Minister of Local Government and seeks to have the order quashing Sooba’s appointment vacated or set aside.

Last week, Justice Chang ruled that former Local Government Minis-ter Ganga Persaud did not have the lawful authority to appoint anyone and that his decision to appoint Sooba as the Town Clerk was “ultra vires” since that responsibility was vested in the Local Government Commission, although it has never been set up.

“…It is the finding of the court that the Minister acted ultra vires the provisions of the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01, and his decision to appoint Carol Sooba as Town Clerk must be quashed,” Justice Chang said.

Although Justice Chang said that his decision does not prevent Sooba from continuing to perform the functions of Town Clerk as the “de facto” Town Clerk—since a direct challenge by quo warranto to her was needed to bring her de facto tenure to an end—the City Council by majority decision this week voted to send her on administrative leave until the situation is resolved.

In listing the grounds of appeal, Nandlall argued that Justice Chang “erred and misdirected himself in law when he ruled that the Minister of Local Government has no power to appoint Carol Sooba as Town Clerk for the Georgetown City Council under the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01.”

He added that the judge “erred and misdirected himself in law when he ruled that section 95 of the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01 came into operation in the absence of any evidence whatsoever to that effect and in the face of evidence which tend to establish that the section did not come into operation.”

He also argued that Justice  Chang’s decision was “misconceived and wrong in law” as well as “against the weight of the evidence.”

Last December City Hall’s Public Relations Officer Royston King filed a suit asking that the then minister, Persaud, show cause why his decision to appoint Sooba as Town Clerk should not be reversed.

King’s move came after Sooba was appointed despite widespread disapproval and also because an interview panel had voted her as the least qualified person for the job. King had charged that the decision was an abuse of power because Persaud had failed to apply the conditions he had originally requested when advertising for a Town Clerk.

King, Paul Clarke and Darren Khan were the other applicants for the position.

On Monday, city councillors had voted to send Sooba on leave after Justice Chang had ruled that her appointment was unlawful.

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